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Is our vision getting blurred?


by Tirivangani Masawi and Shasimana Uugulu
Business

 

A respected Korean researcher says if Nam doesn’t identify and fund key areas in the economy such as manufacturing, agriculture and fishing, Vision 2030 is blurry, The report says there is need for reforms in mining, education and fisheries.

 

Namibia may not achieve Vision 2030 if the prevailing economic, social and political atmosphere goes unchecked, a research by a Korean professor says.

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Vision 2030 is a Government policy framework that aims to transform Namibia into an industrialised and economic power house.

The research was done by Prof Jin Park who was invited by the Bank of Namibia late last year to present a feasibility study on privatisation in Namibia.

 Prof Park says Government has not identified key sectors in the economy that need to be developed and neither have funds been made available for the country to be fully industrialised by 2030.

Comparing the economic development model being implemented in Namibia to the one that was done in Korea, Park said Namibia is not investing enough capital in small to medium scale development.

He notes that the SME sector should be Government’s core expenditure to stimulate growth and broaden the job market.

Prof Park also states that the country is characterised by lack of human resources, civil service inefficiency, management skills and poor social structure needed in a growing economy.

“Capital is lacking for SMEs and Namibia remains a net exporter of capital mainly to South Africa,” Park notes.

He also recommends that the country should implement three focus reforms including education, government and an economic policy to drive Vision 2030 home. 

He further notes that the country needs to come up with an economic policy that allows growth and absorbs the unemployed people into the production sector.

Park says the Namibian economy is characterised by low living standards for the general populace and the industry is also sitting on heavy income disparities.

In his argument, Park uses core development principles that were implemented in countries like United Kingdom, New Zealand and Korea to drive those economies from developing to developed nations.

He notes that Namibia has not yet put policies in place that can drive the agriculture sector to greater heights and create employment.

Park argues that by identifying key areas in the economy, such as manufacturing, agriculture and fishing Namibia can come up with a reliable focus on how the development of these sectors can be improved.

He says under the current state, Namibia does not have a clear focus on how to achieve Vision 2030 and that there is no co-ordination between the education sector, which is an important catalyst of development, and the industry that require human resources.

Park suggests that for Namibia to achieve developmental goals set out in the Vision 2030, the Government needs to pursue reform in education and the general economy so that they compliment each other.

Namibia is still to capture the full potential of labour and agriculture since 65% of the population lives in the rural areas and concentrates largely on subsistence farming. 

This, Park says, has created a limitation on the country’s ability to produce enough for both the domestic and export markets particularly on issues such as investments in the education sector to contribute to human resources development.

“For agriculture to be successful, less people, large farms and 20-30% of the people have to leave their rural homes and join the commercial farming sector. 

“Manufacturing should be used to absorb the people in the rural areas and without the manufacturing sector the service sector cannot absorb the people,” says Park.

According to him, the reasons for high unemployment in the country can be attributed to the fact that manufacturing sector is not creating jobs.

He questions why Government is not vigorously investing in the manufacturing sector and improving the living standards of rural subsistence farmers.

Park notes that Namibia has a low crime rate, political stability, is accessibility to the sea and has a good infrastructure that can attract foreign direct investment.

In his report, Park calls on the Government to strengthen education and economic policies and improve funding for the manufacturing industry which is still to take off.

He says if any reform fails to bring out a clear focus to direct development planning, it will be very hard for Namibia to achieve Vision 2030.

There is a need for exceptional speed, Park says, when it comes to economic growth because of rural to urban migration if the manufacturing industry is not ready to employ these people to avoid serious social problems.

Responding to the report, the Namibian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chief Executive Officer, Tara Shaanika admits the country is doing badly in its industrial and educational reforms.

“I must admit, we are doing very badly in terms of achieving Vision 2030. However, things are not really off beyond remedies. For a very long time, we have seen that the problems in the economy and industry are emanating from the education sector,” says Shaanika.

He adds that Government and the private sector need to engage more often and consider any necessary policy shift that may be needed to achieve the target.

“Under normal circumstances, turning Namibia into an industrailised nation at the rate we are going may not be possible because there is no room for growth for industry. It is unfortunate that the moment a company just starts operating government immediately moves in for their tax without really allowing time for growth,” says Shaanika.

A renowned local Economist, Martin Mwinga says the challenges facing Namibia when it comes to achieving Vision 2030 stem from the fact that the majority of the people are not participants in the process of industrialisation.

He says the majority of Namibians reside in rural areas where there is little economic activities that can contribute meaningfully to the overall national growth.

To address this, Mwinga says the Government needs to adopt a similar focal point like Malawi where the government invested in rural economies to encourage subsistence farmers to produce surplus for export.

“We need to re-strategise if the country is to achieve the goals set out in Vision 2030 so that we have the majority of Namibians participating in the industrialisation process. Namibia can only achieve Vision 2030 with an annual economic growth of 10% annually.”