29 January 2013

Namibia: Youth Implored to Become Entrepreneurs

Windhoek — The Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) Chief Executive Officer Tarah Shaanika says more ought to be done to encourage the youth to become entrepreneurs.

"There is a growing perception that one only gets a government contract if you know somebody very well in a given ministry or if you bribe somebody in government. Media reports about tenders being awarded to businesses which may not have been the most suitable ones to get such tenders - but simply because some government officials have personal interests in such companies - are indicative of something wrong in our system," Shaanika said last week at the NCCI's first media briefing for 2013.

"These reports also create a perception that our system is corrupt and discourages our people from pursuing government contracts in a fair and just manner," he noted.

The NCCI's Board of Directors has resolved to place special focus on government and private sector engagements towards improving the business climate in the country.

"We have noted a number of issues which negatively impact our economy such as labour unrest, government bureaucracy, inadequate access to skills, unfavourable labour legislation, stubbornly high unemployment levels, slow movement towards genuine regional economic integration and many others," added Shaanika.

Shaanika says the NCCI is determined to have these and other matters resolved through "effective, results-oriented public-private sector engagements".

In this regard, the NCCI, which has about 2 100 members, will host a business climate review seminar next month at which various sectors of the economy, through their sectoral bodies, will diagnose key fundamental challenges in their respective sectors which need to be resolved in order to make it more profitable for businesses operating in the country.

"We cannot continue doing business as usual as if we are in a normal environment. The political and social consequences of challenges such as high unemployment, huge inequalities in our economy and poor access to opportunities can be costly and regrettable if these are not addressed timeously," cautioned Shaanika.

In addition, after numerous consultations with the business community in the Kunene Region the NCCI will officially launch two new branches in Kamanjab and Khorixas next week. "These two new branches will make NCCI's presence in the Kunene Region a reality," assured the NCCI chief.

The NCCI is also making final arrangements with members of the business communities in Outjo and Opuwo to establish branches at the towns. According to Shaanika, NCCI branches in these towns will enable the private sector in the areas to become sufficiently organized to enable them to make greater contributions to the competitiveness and growth of the regional and national economies.

For a number of years the NCCI has been active in only 11 of the 13 regions in the country, leaving the Kunene and Hardap regions without chamber structures. However, the NCCI leadership decided last year the chamber should establish structures in all 13 regions and should make these structures work in the interest of business.

"We will also complete the execution of our plans to finalise the establishment of a branch at Mariental in the Hardap Region in the very near future. In fact, our regional manager for the southern region, which includes the Karas and Hardap regions, has been working with the Mariental business community to get them organised into a branch of the chamber and the preparations have reached the final stages before the official launch," he told the media briefing.

During 2012 the NCCI emphasised improved serve delivery with a view to make its members more competitive both domestically and internationally. With the assistance of partners such as the Ministry of Trade and Industry the chamber provided training in a number of key areas to over 200 small and medium enterprises. These capacity building initiatives are aimed at developing a more vibrant and competitive SME sector in the country to support economic growth, assist in the alleviation of poverty and promote job creation.

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