WINDHOEK, Mar. 16 – In a couple of days’ Namibians will be marching yet again in celebration of Namibia’s thirty-two years of political independence. As customary, 21 March marks an important event on the national calendar. A time to take a moment to praise those who have sacrificed their lives and time for the freedom of this country – ultimately paving the way for development and advancement of the future generation. For some, it will also be a critical point of reflection; to appreciate the economic progress achieved thus far and question any inconsistencies around important areas of development. This includes, but is not limited to the rule of law, government size, regulatory efficiency, and the extent of market openness.
It is also an important moment for stakeholders’ introspection regarding the extent to which development has impacted key sectors of the economy. In addition to this, assessing the efficacy of public policy across sectors is imperative as we approach the end of NDP5’s implementation period (2021/22 FY), while also looking ahead. Meanwhile, business leaders, economists, and other pundits may be rearing their heads to enquire about what the next national development plan is set to deliver, especially in view of an economy that has not registered any meaningful growth since 2016. This curiosity is likely to extend across the following questions:
What does the plan intend to offer for youth unemployment?
What does the plan intend to offer for the revolutionisation of Namibia’s education system?
What does the plan intend to offer towards the realisation of a predictable business environment?
What does the plan intend to offer for the revolutionisation of the agriculture sector?
The above presents some glaring food for thought but ultimately, the result should be a blueprint that reflects broad national consensus on policies that promote social justice and overall economic freedom. Ministries and other policy implementing agencies will also be expected to update their strategic plans to demonstrate national policy coherence. As an organisation that has immensely benefited from the evolution of Namibia’s political landscape, all hands are on deck on 21 March 2022 as we continue to join forces in commemoration of this important national event, while also reinforcing our commitment in building a globally competitive Namibia.
Industrialisation and economic freedom have been a campaign promise for Namibia since independence. The ability to bring prosperity, new jobs and better incomes for all is deeply enshrined in Vision 2030 and the five preceding national development plans. Yet, the country is arguably less industrialised today than it was three decades ago on account of a continuing widening trade deficit.
Given the emergence of 21st century economic realities, characterized by the proliferation of global value chains, perhaps the policy emphasis needs to be re-directed from industrialisation towards developing the service sector as an engine for growth. One example of this could be the adoption of eCommerce’s support systems in Namibia. Despite the highlighted setbacks, the country has performed fairly well on other fronts such as institutional and infrastructure development as well as the preservation of peace and stability. These continue to be important pillars of support for creating a predictable business environment. From an economic freedom perspective, the fiscal health state and financial freedom in general constitutes some key pain points for the Namibian economy. Deployment of productive spending and continued prioritization of domestic procurement – where there is capacity, are unboundedly poised to move a needle in ensuring inclusive growth in Namibia. – Frans Uusiku, FNB Market Research Manager