Windhoek — Experts and politicians have received the Fourth National Development Plan (NDP4), which was launched yesterday, with mixed feelings, with some hailing it as a great document while others say it will be meaningless if institutions of higher learning do not prioritize it in their academic programmes.
Iipumbu Shiimi, the Governor of the Bank of Namibia, says NDP4 is a good, focused and narrow document, which is a good start. It has specific and measurable targets, which if not reached can hold government accountable.
"It is a good start, one should know your priorities first and focus on things that make a difference. It has measurable goals - a goal should be measurable. If you cannot measure your goal, then you can also not manage it," Shiimi explained.
He said as good as the document may be, the challenge ahead is implementation, because it does not help to have a good document and yet not put it to work.
"What we have to work on as government is execution capacity. We are all given responsibilities and have to be accountable."
Shiimi said the targeted sectors - tourism, manufacturing, agriculture and logistics - could create the desired 90 000 jobs because "those sectors have the potential to create employment".
Concurring with Shiimi on the simplicity and priority-based plan is Kaitira Kandjii, former Regional Director of the Media Institute of Southern Africa and Director of Communications at the Polytechnic of Namibia.
Kandjii said he was optimistic about NDP4, since it has much clearer indicators and is focused.
According to him, it has "reduced expectations," which can be of benefit.
He added that employment creation might be realistic if there is more investment in manufacturing and in the mining sector.
"If all mines can be persuaded to invest in smelting like it is happening in Tsumeb, jobs can be created," he said.
According to Kandjii what the Millennium Challenge Account Namibia is doing for agriculture and tourism is a case in point, adding that buying more farms for Namibians and investing in tourism could boost employment creation.
Kandjii is however concerned that NPD4 leaves behind unaddressed issues in NDP3 and seem to be a fresh plan. "What happens to the things that were not achieved in NDP3?" he asked.
He added that with economic development on the agenda, inequality is not going to be addressed since the more the economy grows, the more the already rich will become richer. He said there is a need to ensure balanced wealth distribution.
Other commentators were of the view that a development strategy should be anchored on ideology, which they said is lacking in NDP4.
"Any development plan not anchored around an ideology is as good as not having a plan at all," says Usutuaije Maamberua, a Member of Parliament and the president of the South West Africa National Union (SWANU).
Maamberua said that whether it is narrow or broad, unless Namibia defines its development ideology, "NDP4 like the previous ones" would not have an impact on employment creation, economic development and the reduction of inequality.
He further said that NDP4 should drive the education sector to link and narrow state-funded, national-interest education programmes in priority sectors.
Otherwise, institutions of higher learning will continue to have disparate programmes, not in line with national development priorities, a move that could dump more graduates on the streets and increase the unemployment burden.
Maamberua said SWANU as a Socialist party can drive a tangible development transformation agenda.
Unlike previous NDP's, such as NDP3, which ended in March and had 21 goals to be reached within a period of five years, NDP4 is a focused document and contains only three goals, namely, high and sustained economic growth; employment creation and increased income equality.
For each strategic priority in NDP4 there is a desired outcome.
For example, NDP4 aims to create some 90 000 jobs and reduce unemployment to 40,4 percent. It also targets a 6 percent growth in the economy every year and aims to reduce the Gini coefficient to 4.8. Speaking at the launch, President Hifikepunye Pohamba said Namibia has scored many achievements since independence such as political stability, a mature democracy, the construction of more health facilities and macro-economic stability characterised by a stable and low inflation rate, but added that "we shouldn't be too satisfied with our achievements".
"While our achievements so far are impressive, our challenges are equally daunting. Our economy is still not growing at a sufficient rate in order to generate the necessary employment opportunities for our citizens," he said.
The president said given the size of the economy, there must be reforms to ensure that the goals of NDP4 are realised. "We as a country need to promote an export-led economic development agenda."
The Director-General of the National Planning Commission, which spearheaded the compilation of NDP4, Tom Alweendo, said "for NDP4 to be a success, Namibians should believe that we can transform our economy into a dynamic one characterised by new industries."
"However, it will be naïve on our part to believe that we can create new industries that will create new employment opportunities, but at the same time shy away from making the necessary public and private investment," Alweendo said.
He emphasised that it will require courage to take certain decisions that are perceived to be unpopular, but necessary in addressing the challenges facing the country.