By: Josef Kefas Sheehama
During his address at the EU-Namibia Business Forum in Brussels, Belgium, President Hage G. Geingob declared an end to the era of exporting raw materials from Namibia.
This significant policy change reflects the understanding that the wealth embodied in the nation’s natural resources is a critical part of its overall wealth, as outlined in Article 100 of Namibia’s Constitution.
The specific provision states that “land, water, and natural resources below and above the surface of the land and in the continental shelf and within the territorial waters and the exclusive economic zone of Namibia shall belong to the State if they are not otherwise lawfully owned”.
Therefore, the wealth embodied in natural resources makes up a significant proportion of the nation’s wealth.
Harvard defines a state as a political division occupying a defined territory, and the separation of powers is vital in providing checks and balances.
Hence, the separation of powers is important because it provides a vital system of checks and balances.
Tightening rules to reduce the export of raw minerals is a step toward increasing the value of our exports.
This move presents an excellent opportunity for the domestic market to expand, contributing to the reduction of unemployment in the country.
We must revisit policy frameworks and solutions that empower the economy for inclusive growth.
The investments we make today hold the potential to turn our challenges into opportunities with long-lasting global impacts.
We are at a pivotal moment, and we must actively engage in shaping the path forward.
Exporting raw materials is not an economically sound decision, as it depletes foreign exchange reserves and results in the outsourcing of jobs, ultimately leading to a significant loss of value.
Processing these raw materials locally not only adds value but also retains jobs and creates wealth for our people, which is the core objective of this reform policy.
The primary intention is to attract more investment in downstream industries, encouraging foreign investors to establish processing plants within Namibia.
This, in turn, will generate employment opportunities, foster innovation, and enhance economic diversification, maintaining a strong GDP.
The mining sector in Namibia plays a pivotal role in sustainable economic development, contributing significantly to exports and forming essential links with other sectors of the economy.
However, we must acknowledge that our mining sector remains underdeveloped, leading to the export of raw materials. Capital-intensive large-scale mining projects have been challenging to finance, given the limited resources available within Namibia.
While some may fear a reduction in the volume of trade in various minerals, it is imperative to remain optimistic about the policy’s success in the long run.
A well-implemented policy can enable Africa to have more control over the import and export of crucial raw materials, which are vital for the development of green technology and other industries.
The potential investors entering Namibia should create new jobs and share their expertise for the benefit of Namibians.
While policymaking is not lacking, we must address the issue of implementation to ensure that the Namibian people derive maximum benefits from their resources.
The export ban on raw materials is a crucial step to foster the growth of value chains.
To support this initiative, the Minerals Policy of Namibia should undergo reform, encouraging foreign investors to embrace value addition.
The aim is to transform traders into industrialists and stimulate domestic economic activities.
By transitioning from being exporters of raw materials to exporters of refined products with higher added value, we can provide more employment opportunities to our citizens.
The policy shift will encourage the construction of processing facilities in Namibia, allowing Namibians to claim a more significant share of the value chain.
Namibia, a leading producer of zinc, holder of fluorspar reserves, and set to become the third-largest lithium producer in Africa by 2026, can forge strategic economic partnerships centered on critical minerals for mutual benefit.
This column represents the author’s personal opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial board or The Villager and its owners.