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Researchers wary of Govt recognition

by Shasimana Uugulu


Academics have criticised Government for not utilising them for research when drafting developmental policies.

They say this has resulted in the poor implementation of some Government initiatives.

Government’s undying interest in utilising foreign consultants most of whom do not understand the local economic landscape is a major obstacle to the development of concrete policies that will enhance the country’s economic growth, they argue.

Polytechnic of Namibia Vice Rector: Academic Affairs and Research Andrew Niikondo said Government’s preference of foreign research firms is rendering local institutions worthless despite their capacity to carry out researches.

“Tertiary institutions are not there to train students. They are there to create new knowledge through research and experiments as well as contribute to the development of the country. All over the world, Governments engage their local institutions for research purposes because they understand the local context and landscape much better than their foreign counterparts do,” said Niikondo.

Niikondo noted that some of the country’s policies are poorly implemented because Government does not appreciate local tertiary institutions’ competence to carry out relevant research on these policies.

He said local institutions have the capacity as well as manpower which can be at the disposal of Government at a cheaper cost than hiring of foreign consultants.

According to him, Government policies can only be well implemented if they are conceived by local people themselves within the context of the local economic landscape and developmental needs.

“As local institutions, we would like to see Government engaging us more often for research purposes. We have both the capacity and manpower to carry out all relevant research for the country. Hence I urge Government to ensure that local expertise is exhausted before seeking foreign consultants,” said Niikondo.

The Polytechnic of Namibia has, in the past, helped in the research on effects of climate change on the environment and Niikondo believes the institution could have come in handy on economic policies such as the Targeted Intervention Program for Employment and Economic Growth (TIPEEG), and Vision 2030.

Niikondo, who is currently completing a research on Namibia’s perennial floods, argued that most studies done by foreign experts are flawed to the extent that their implementations become compromised as they lack relevance to the local economic set up.

International University of Management (IUM) Pro-Vice-Chancellor: Academic Affairs and Research Fred Opali agreed with Niikondo that recommendations by foreign consultants are always hard to implement.

However, he also noted that there is a tendency among Government officials to believe that foreign experts are better than local ones even after 21 years of independence.

“Often when foreign experts come to Namibia, they base most of their studies and recommendations from interviews that they conduct with local people. However, these recommendations lack an in-depth understanding of the local economic setup which makes it hard for the Government to properly implement them,” said Opali.

Opali also urged Government to put local tertiary institutions at the forefront of knowledge creation and make them centres of economic, scientific and political research for Namibia to become a knowledge based economy which relies on its own human resources for advice.

Furthermore, Opali said the fact that implementation is a problem in Namibia could be traced to the fact that the country still continues to rely on foreign consultants which he said can only be addressed if Government start to vigorously use local expertise in its programmes.