Namibia: Central Bank to Talk Escaping Middle-Income Trap

17 September 2019

THE disappointing economic growth record of Namibia since 2016 has given rise to the notion that Namibia might be in a middle-income trap.

This and more will be discussed at the 20th Bank of Namibia (BoN) annual symposium set for this week Thursday. The annual event was started in 1998 to discuss pressing economic issues, highlighting the years past.

"The hosting of the annual symposium has been part of the bank's calendar since 1998, bringing together experts, international and local policymakers, academics, and relevant stakeholders to engage and make recommendations on various areas of national development, in line with aspirations of Vision 2030, and the national development plans (NDPs)," said the bank's communications deputy director, Kazembire Zemburuka.

This year's event will be held under the theme 'Escaping the Middle-Income Trap: A perspective from Namibia', which captures a situation where a country is unable to move to higher levels of economic growth and further economic transformation.

Zemburuka said gross domestic product (GDP) growth rates had been on an upward trajectory over a number of years, averaging 3,5% between 1990 and 1999, then increasing to 4,3% between 2000 and 2009.

During 2010 to 2015, the average growth rate was 5,7%, mainly due to an expansionary fiscal policy and the construction of large mines.

"However, since 2016, real GDP contracted as the temporary stimulus from the construction of mines and public sector infrastructure slowed down, and the government undertook a significant fiscal consolidation exercise to reduce public debt and the budget deficit. Could this slow growth be due to structural challenges, or is the country in a middle-income trap?," he asked rhetorically.

Zemburuka said this will be at the centre of discussions, and that the event will provide a platform to understand the notion of a middle-income trap with reference to Namibia, and to devise strategies and policy options to exit such a trap and become an industrialised state, in line with Vision 2030.

The bank will furthermore co-host a public lecture in collaboration with the Namibia University of Science and Technology (Nust), delivered by Jesus Felipe, to discuss if industrialisation has become a hard endeavour, and what today's developing countries could do to progress fast.

Zemburuka said the event will be streamed live on the BoN website.

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