Namibia Economist (Windhoek)

20 December 2012

Namibia: Team Namibia Must Take the Flag and Run

Trade and Industry Minister, Calle Schlettwein has urged Team Namibia to revisit its marketing strategy in order to develop a niche market for locally produced commodities.

In a recent interview, Schlettwein said Team Namibia needs to adopt the Namibian flag as its logo because it is the best known symbol internationally and the easiest to identify with a Namibian commodity.

"On a serious note, the marketing side of Team Namibia must be looked at. It is one thing to say, we'll, source from Namibia and everything goes well. It's unfortunately not as easy as that. Your marketing side and the niche market that we want to develop is an important element as well."

The minister assured Team Namibia of his full support adding that the country must be aggressive in implementing an agenda that supports local sourcing. He said: "We must have a similar aggressive attitude towards becoming more competitive, addressing the productivity issues that we have, and our skills must become good. I think it is a crucial element in industrialisation."

He said it is crucial for local producers to have access to local markets as it will be difficult for them to break into the export market without first establishing themselves locally.

"If you cannot sell your commodity in your home market, why do you think that it will be an attractive commodity for a consumer in a neighbouring country? If you have established yourself in your home market and you have shown it is a quality product, it is competitive and it is fairly priced, then you will make it."

On industrialisation, Minister Schlettwein said he is optimistic that the country has all the basic building blocks of becoming an industrialised nation.

"We are well endowed with raw materials, we have a fantastic political environment to work in, we are a diverse community with many diverse skills and needs. So we have from the human resources point of view, a fantastic base to work off. We don't have to worry about political stability and matters that other countries are struggling with. The big picture is good, we are moving in the right direction, I think it is the linkages in that big frame that needs to be created so that we can all pull in the same direction. So I am optimistic."

He said Namibia should avoid making too many mistakes and wasting too many scarce resources on the road towards industrialisation saying the country must be smart by picking sectors that we want to concentrate on."We must pick them well and we must carry on with our efforts to deepen our economic integration so that we solve the market size problem that is hampering us."

As the Minister of Trade and Industry, Schlettwein said, we need to shift our emphasis towards including industrialisation, towards developing faster the supply side constraints that the country have. "We must also make sure that our industrialisation is not lop sided towards happening only in the urban areas.We have to move our industrialisation to where the people are - to the rural areas."

"Our policies must have as a core the need to equalise income, to equalise development opportunities, to equalise access to opportunities. We must tweek our legislative framework so that it creates an environment in which it is easy to do business in. We must remain at the same time attractive for investment but I think we must not be held hostage by only looking at foreign direct investment, we must make it easy for our own investors to create and make business in the country."

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