25 September 2017

Namibia: Youth Bulge Could Lead to Conflict

IF THE expectations and aspirations of Namibia's youthful population are not met, the country could become conflict-ridden, a report released last week by the South Africa-based Institute for Security Studies concludes.

The findings were revealed by the ISS's Zachary Donnenfeld at a presentation hosted by the Institute for Public Policy Research's Economic Watch in Windhoek.

The event aimed to look at Namibia's economy and prospects. Donnenfeld, whose report explored ways of improving Namibia's human development outcomes by 2040, said Namibia's high fertility rate had driven rapid population growth, which has outstripped the rate of state service delivery.

The report that used the International Futures forecasting system shows that population growth is expected to decline in the future.

Donnenfeld said a young population presented either an opportunity, such as a large, potentially productive population, or it could become a curse, as rampant unemployment could lead to instability.

"A large number of young people (particularly males) coupled with high levels of unemployment and poor service delivery can be a catalyst for instability. Research indicates that countries with a youth bulge greater than 40% are more than twice as likely to experience conflict as other states," he cautioned.

The ISS report said one way of dealing with the high fertility rate was through improved access to family planning programmes.

"One consequence of the population growth is that Namibia is forecast to see an increase of more than 225 000 people living in poverty by 2040 along the current path, while the population is expected to grow by half," Donnenfeld stated.

Making things worse, Donnenfeld said was that Namibia's education system was performing below what would be expected based on its level of economic development.

Referencing Unesco statistics, Donnenfeld said the average number of years in school by Namibians was lower than what was expected of an upper middle-income country and also lower than some other African countries.

He pointed out that the country has a poor transition from lower secondary to upper high school, which can be fixed with more investment in lower pre-primary and lower secondary education.

Earlier this year, during her budget motivation, education minister Katrina Hanse-Himarwa said pre-primary education, which had been allocated N$167,93 million for this financial year, was the foundation of all educational achievements.

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