Namibia: Relax, We Have Made Progress - Nandi-Ndaitwah

Independence Avenue Windhoek

Swapo vice president Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah says Namibians should relax and acknowledge that the country has achieved positive economic development in the last almost 29 years.

Speaking during a public lecture on Namibia's years since independence at Oshakati in the Oshana region on Saturday, Nandi-Ndaitwah said Namibia's economy has grown rapidly since independence, with the country reaching middle-income status in 2009, and upper-middle-income status in 2014.

The lecture was themed 'Namibia's 29 years: The meaning of national independence'.

Nandi-Ndaitwah told her audience not to fear.

"Relax, and try to be realistic enough and understand how the situation was at independence, and compare it with the realities today. I know very well that human beings are sometimes very narrow in their thinking because of selfishness", she noted.

She told the packed hall that despite the world economic downturn, there are positive economic developments in Namibia that came after independence, which are tangible and can be seen clearly.

"A number of people are currently able to own properties, compared to where they were during the previous years. The road network that connected this region (Oshana) to some places was not accessible before independence. We all know particularly well that the road network in this country was built to help speed the war machine to the theatre of operation," she stated.

Nandi-Ndaitwah said before independence, there was a poor road network between Namibia, Zambia and Botswana. Today, roads have been built to provide easy access between the neighbouring countries.

"All these are part of development, where road networks have helped to shorten distances between destinations, while communication technology facilitates the speedy movement of data. We must know that all over the world, transport and communication technology are the engines of economic development, and infrastructure is very crucial," she said.

Nandi-Ndaitwah also used the platform to point out what she feels are tangible changes, saying the government has built new hospitals and clinics, while expanding others. Since independence, 98 clinics and 45 health centres were built, and six hospitals renovated, she said.

"This country never had a university before independence. We must be proud that today, Namibia has two public universities - Nust and Unam - and a private university, IUM. In 1991, there were 1 234 schools, and as of last year, the number of schools stood at 1 886. In 1995, there were 256 hostels in the country, and this has increased to 1 450 in 2017. The literacy rate stood at 76% in 1991, and reached 88,7% in 2016," she continued.

The minister said while unemployment remains the biggest challenge in Namibia, young people should understand the market and not choose careers which will not secure them a job.

Banda Shilimela, a businessman who was also a panellist at the discussion, said although Namibia has political freedom, economic freedom was the most difficult to attain.

He urged young people to have entrepreneurial mindsets, and to look for solutions to solve problems in their villages, constituencies and the country at large.

"Funding is a mindset that prevents us from moving forward. I did not rely on funding to be able to employ 5 000 Namibians. Use entrepreneurial skills to solve your problems," Shilimela said.

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