AS we prepare to draw the curtain on 2017, most Namibians will look back at year that severely tested our resolve as a nation.
The economic hardships that were experienced by many, served as a reminder that Namibia needs to maximise the economic opportunities available in a growing global village, while finally setting the country on a trajectory that will see value-addition activities being the mainstay of the economy.
For President Hage Geingob and his team, the bright side has been that having mitigated political uncertainty through a landslide Swapo Congress victory, the surrounding regional players, such as Zimbabwe and South Africa, have reformed from within, and should strengthen the regional cause.
With these key changes, the region is expected to rebound in the coming year, and begin to bear fruit, following what has been a tough year.
Indeed, 2018 is not going to be pedestrian and easy, but it signals a time for Namibia to get to work and re-emerge in its endeavours, pursuant of the Harambee Prosperity Plan, as well as the Fifth National Development Plan.
The roadmap has already been clearly marked, and the missing ingredient at this stage could be adherence to already signed ministerial performance agreements, productive delivery from State-owned enterprises and other key support mechanisms, aimed at boosting the national agenda.
As a running theme, zero tolerance to corruption must gain traction in the coming year, with leaking taps bleeding the State of millions, being closed imminently.
Like any other country, Namibia has its own uphill challenges, but these can be addressed, first by supporting the government’s reform agenda, and secondly by effectively and positively contributing to the wellbeing of the economy.
Among the most critical challenges remains the fact that the economy is heavily reliant on imports, while the manufacturing sector has regressed, and now contributes significantly less to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the nation. This is a particularly sad state of affairs in a nation that is rich with mineral resources.
Namibia remains one of the most unequal societies in the world, where wealth is concentrated in the hands of an elite class, while the poorest of the poor battle to put a plate of food on the table each day.
The Bank of Namibia (BoN) estimated real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to have been 1 percent in 2016, which is a strong decline compared to the 5.3 percent growth rate recorded by the National Statistics Agency (NSA) in 2015.
The economy is now expected to grow by between 1.8 and 2.3 percent, down from an initial estimate of 2.5 percent. The NSA said in September that the economy had shrunk by 1.7 percent in the second quarter, the same contraction as in the first quarter of the year. However, there is good news ahead, as analysts have predicted that the economy will grow by over 3.2 percent, as the mining sector emerges from years of contraction. As the events in South Africa unfolded this week, it became clear that it is of critical importance for Namibia to fundamentally and with clear vision deal with its economy being so closely entwined with the neighbouring country. But beyond that, Namibia needs to, as a matter of urgency, redress the structural inequalities that have made job creation and poverty reduction so difficult. This is especially true in the case of rural women and youth, whose access to productive assets and employment opportunities are extremely scarce. The year 2017 tested our resolve as a nation, amid economic hardships, retrenchments and households battling. May 2018 bring a new dawn, with new hope!
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015