The Namibian (Windhoek)

Namibia: Renaissance in a Namibian Context

Africa Renaissance is a philosophy or ideology that seeks to convey a positive vision of Africa as a peaceful, democratic, and market-oriented region that will attract foreign trade and investment, as well as the return of thousands of talented Africans.

The African renaissance revolution is intended to encourage all Africans to confront these realities and to take greater responsibility for reversing the ills that plague the continent. For a renaissance to take place, sovereign rights must give way to more enduring and universal human rights.

African governments will remain the principal guarantors of the security and well-being of its people, but increasingly these governments must hold each other accountable for good conduct in both domestic and foreign affairs. A community of nations, rather than an alliance of states, must become the basis for advancing peace and prosperity throughout Africa and for enhancing Africa's influence in world affairs.

The main objectives of African Renaissance is the economic recovery of Africa and the establishment of political democracies throughout Africa. To a large extent most of the political objectives envisioned under the concept of African renaissance have been achieved in Namibia. The most pressing area where Namibia lags behind in is economic development and fast economic growth.

For Namibia to achieve economic growth, which is defined as the increase in output per capita of the labour force, it is imperative that the government undertake development projects that are streamlined with reducing the massive level of unemployment in Namibia. As the majority of the Namibian labour force is low skilled, any effort to reduce unemployment should target this sector of the labour force.

Namibia's greatest asset and hope for economic development is its vast mineral wealth. The mineral resource industry has until now only been exploited by large foreign firms with minimal local investment because of a lack of capital and expertise available to Namibian citizens.

I propose that the government enter into public-private partnerships with well recognised and established foreign mining firms which have had great successes in the mineral resource industry. This agreement entails the government providing capital investment for mines while the private firm manages and allocates these funds in order to make the mines profitable. This enables the government to achieve its goals of reducing unemployment, poverty and increasing economic growth while at the same time benefiting from the profits that can be used for greater investments, while the private firms also benefit from the profit generated from the mines.

Research is vital for the full discovery and exploitation of the nation's natural resource reserves. This will enable the state to generate a great amount of revenue in order for the government to distribute income to more socially conscious non-revenue generating projects, necessary for economic development and distribution of wealth in the nation.

Although state involvement in private enterprise is vital for economic growth and development of Namibia it is important that the state does not become involved in industries where there is already high or where the potential for local investment is huge, as this will hurt local entrepreneurs.

The state should only become involved in industries that need high level investments in order to start up an enterprise, has mass employment consequences and has non-existent or very low level local investment.

While in the short to medium term employment creation is the most critical goal for the state in order to achieve economic development, at the same time investment in education also has to be prioritised, as in the long run, as a developed nation Namibia has to move from a mineral resource dependent country to a service orientated nation.

This involves the government improving the quality of education provided to students especially those in rural areas, while at the same time improving the infrastructure available to students.

This is because although Namibia has world-class tertiary institutions too many students fail to achieve the necessary academic performance to enable them to qualify for tertiary education. Education is important as it leads to the development of human capital which is the most important resource and factor of production in any economy. Education is the most effective agent in the reduction of poverty and reducing the gap in the distribution of wealth in a nation. It is education that leads to the creation of the bright minds that will lead Namibia forward and ensure its long term future.

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