By Tomas Iindji
WITH all the focus on rewriting the Procurement Act, Amending the Foreign Investment Act to Namibia Investment Promotion Act, while building a more competitive economy by 2020 that attracts foreign investment and makes Namibia the go to place for business on the African continent; we want to ensure that Namibians aren’t overstepped and that such attractiveness benefits our own citizens in the long-term.
It is true that open economies outperform closed economies in the long-run, and Namibia is well on its way to fulfilling those aspirations. As leadership of the NCCI North, we have been very supportive of the private sectors initiatives aimed at boosting economic development, increasing employment opportunities, diversifying our economy, and closing the income inequality gap that exists. Now as we embark on these sweeping changes to enhance our economic makeup, we want to propose changes to bolter our future and ensure that Namibian citizens are the ones that benefit the most from our prosperous future.
We at the Chamber are in strong support of bringing in expatriates with unique skill sets. Attracting this talent adds tremendous value to our economy and we are in competition with other nations to do so. However, we believe the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration should create specific guidelines as to the terms of their purpose in Namibia. There should be requirements for mentorship and understudy appointments to shadow these highly skilled individuals during their time working in Namibia. Whether that is a period of 24, 36, or 48 months, these foreign workers should be required to mentor one or many understudies depending on the professions, so that when their time in Namibia comes to an end, there is a Namibian citizens that has learned these unique skills, gained valuable experience on the job shadowing an expert, and will now be able to take the reins and perform such duties independent of any foreign assistance. This skills transference builds self-reliance and will create sustainable positive economic impacts on our economy.
The value of mentorship and understudy appointments applies in many facets of our economy, not just to expatriates. At NCCI we are working closely with our Vocational Training Centres such as COSDEC, VTC, and all NTA affiliated institutions to pair technical trainees with job attachments in the community. This is an important role that the chamber must play to connect the private sectors with skilled employees that will soon enter the workforce. This is all part of our efforts to build a labour force that is actively employed, that has the skills that our future industrialized economy will need, and that our current business owners say they need to help their businesses grow. We want to use this article thusly to encourage all our members of NCCI to work with the Chamber to hire an intern for job attachment annually.
We must work to empower our educated youth and provide them with more opportunities for advancement. We want to advocate for youth externships at all levels of the government service. We should have young, motivated, innovative voices reaching all levels of public office; observing our experienced leaders at work, while providing a new perspective on the future of our Country. In the spirit of Harambee which says we must ALL be pulling in the same direction, this plan to include youth at all levels of government ensures that the young voices are included and actively involved in the decision making.
We must still work to ensure that our Namibians are granted land and can then use that land, even in proclaimed area, to secure collateralised debt from our commercial lending institutions. Building wealth through such assets will be critical to securing our futures. Additionally tender procurement should have a priority placed on locally owned and operated institutions so that Namibian money stays invested in our country instead of fleeing to foreign shores as so often is the case with large projects, we would like to stress and comments that on this part government is doing extremely well and well done to our government on this part. There are still many technical areas where we must actively attract foreign capital and foreign expertise, but such projects must come with the caveat to build local capacity and reinvest proceeds so that the next project of similar expertise and capital requirements may be funded and worked on with the domestic capacity of our capable Namibians.
We want to encourage all our members of NCCI to review the proposal we have set forth today. And to lobby your parliamentarians and local council member’s into seeing the changes we have proposed enacted on a large scale. As we always, NCCI is acting as the ‘Premier Voice of Business Namibia’. We are at your service in this capacity.
Tomas Iindji is the Chairperson of the NCCI Northern branch
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