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ADB urges Nam to diversify economy

by Tirivangani Masawi

The African Development Bank (ADB) has challenged Namibia to continue diversifying its economic base to buffer revenue collection that is largely skewed towards the mining sector.

This, as Namibia has begun engaging in the process of crafting an industrial policy that would stimulate industrial growth and production. According to the ADB, Namibia still struggles from lack of suitably-trained entrepreneurs and vocationally-trained small business people to push the drive towards faster economic growth and improve on job creation.

In their report titled African Development Bank Namibia Country Strategy (2009-2013), ADB notes that despite evidence of sustained growth, given its small domestic market, openness and heavy dependence on international trade, the Namibian economy is still vulnerable to external shocks.

“There is, therefore, a need for diversifying the export market and putting in place a competition policy that will enhance efficiency in the production and allocation of resources and generate employment and economic growth consistent with a  conducive policy environment,” reads the report.

It noted further that, although the country has in the past maintained its economic growth at an average of 4% per annum, inadequate capacity in both the public and private sectors has been identified as one of the main bottlenecks for sustainable development in Namibia.

“The shortage of suitably-trained entrepreneurs in either vocational or business disciplines is a major disadvantage of the small business sector in Namibia. Not only are these businesses poorly managed but the products or services they make or sell also leave much to be desired. 

“In order to attain the objectives of Vision 2030 and NDP3, the capacities of the private sector, including small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs) must be developed. It is essential that the ADB supports vocational training for both the public and private sectors, including the provision of opportunities for entrepreneurship,” notes the report in part.

According to the ADB, 80% of the rural population in Namibia is engaged in agricultural activities as subsistence farmers but their share of agriculture in GDP is about 6% reflecting low productivity in the sector. 

“The Bank’s intervention in the agricultural sector will, therefore, seek to enhance productivity and the attainment of food security and diversification into production and exports of high value agricultural products through irrigation based agronomic production to mitigate the adverse effects of drought, which has been cited as a development challenge,” adds the report. 

The Bank also notes that in future, their intervention in Namibia would also seek to attain sustainable livestock improvement through optimal and sustainable utilisation of range land.

According to ADB, Namibia will continue to play a crucial role in regional integration by developing partnership with other Sadc members in developing regional infrastructure, facilitating cross border trade and investment and building capacity in trade.