If economic growth remains ‘jobless’ – as has been the trend in Namibia, unemployment will keep rising and the efforts of institutions like the SSC-DF, which is providing funds for skills development, will not be successful at facilitating that transition.
These sentiments were uttered by the Fund Manager of the SSC-DF, Olga Katjiuongua, in an exclusive interview.
Katjiuongua hinted that in order for a social development initiative that is centred on employment creation to be successful it is imperative that economic growth is achieved conjointly with employment creation and that equilibrium in the number of jobs demanded and the number of jobs supplied is achieved.
“Development funding is a complex arena and things do not always go as intended. For example, transition from school to work is dependent on the performance of the economy and its ability to generate demand for additional jobs,” Katjiuongua maintained. The Fund Manager was responding to a query regarding the challenges that her department is faced with in a quest to achieve its objectives.
“The message is that we will never be fully insulated from challenges. It is rather the way we choose to deal with them which will lead to us achieving milestones and fulfilling our mandate,” she added.
Be that as it may, there has been delays in the past regarding the disbursement of funds – particularly that for employment creation projects – which some media houses attributed to the time taken for the approval of such funds by the Office of the President. Katjiuongua, this week maintained that the delay is a result of her office’s attempt to apply due diligence.
She maintained that Namibia is a vast country and her office’s mandate is to apply the Funds in a manner that yields geographic equity.
“It will thus take time for one to evaluate proposals and conduct due diligence before recommendations can be submitted to the Head of State for approval,” she said.
“You might appreciate that the Office of the President, as the highest office in the country, is super busy to cater for the needs of a wide range of stakeholders. Our recommendations are not submitted to this Office merely for rubber stamping. The Office has to satisfy itself that grants will be awarded to the most deserving projects and in the most transparent manner,” Katjiuongua added.
According to Katjiuongua, the Fund has since 2009, committed N$47million toward tertiary education in the form of bursaries and study loans. This, she said, has benefited at least 250 students. In addition, N$55 million was committed towards employment creation and vocational training for unemployed Namibians who may not be able to qualify for tertiary education. This support, she maintained, is expected to lead to the creation of at least 300 jobs and the training of no less than 1,500 unemployed Namibians.
SSC-DF and Vision 2030
Queried as to how the SSC-DF is aligned with the country’s Vision 2030 Katjiuongua told this newspaper that the directorate provides financial assistance to students to pursue academic and vocational qualifications in fields crucial to the attainment of Vision 2013, as outlined in the National Human Resources Development Plans.
She maintained that, the majority of students funded by SSC-DF study towards Engineering, Medicine, Agriculture, Social Work, Finance, ICT, Aviation and Artisan related Fields.
She further added that since agriculture is the mainstay of the rural economy, it is appropriate and not a coincidence that the majority of the livelihood projects funded by SSC-DF centre around agriculture and the green economy.
“Other projects are in the areas of public infrastructure, manufacturing and value addition, due to their employment creation potential. With these interventions, and new innovative plans lined up to benefit the unemployed, SSC-DF is confident that it will meaningfully contribute to the realization of Vision 2030,” said Katjiuongua.
She further reemphasized the important role that the Fund is playing in the Namibian society maintaining that her organization has a keen interest in seeing as many Namibians as possible employed or as job creators.
“A job is most probably one of the most precious assets one can give especially to the neediest members of our society. It gives a person income security, restores dignity and curbs inter-generational poverty,” Katjiuongua said.
She added that; “It will be counter-intuitive for us not to have that interest as most of the Funds under our administration both current and planned are occupational and contributory. Thus, a healthy, growing workforce is of great importance to us.”
She did not mince her words when she said declared that ‘every Namibian who is able and willing to work should be given the opportunity to work.’