Namibia: Industrialisation Through Value Addition

THE SAYING EVERY cloud has a silver lining means although it may seem as if there is no end to one's troubles, rest assured good will eventually emerge out of every challenging situation.

In short: There is always something good somewhere deep down in everything that is bad.

For example: Many entrepreneurs use retrenchment, or being laid off by an employer, to unlock that yearning to start their own business.

And the severance payout then provides their much-needed start-up funding.

Another example of good coming out of bad is the fall in inflation in a country.

It fosters faster economic recovery in times of recession.

This adage is derived from the observation that a cloud's silver lining reminds one that the sun is behind that cloud, that once the sun shines through it turns coldness into warmth, and darkness will become light.

We should view this horrible coronavirus in the same light.

Something positive will surely and must eventually emerge from this ghastly pandemic that has caused so much worry, panic, misery, suffering and even death across the globe, as well as much devastation to Namibia's already limping economy.

This has in turn placed the livelihoods of thousands at risk in a country already plagued by high joblessness and widespread poverty.

Namibia's economic recovery will require much corrective intervention.

This will take time. But is time on our side?

Taking a fresh look at programmes, plans and interventions launched in the past also makes sense.

At the time of its launch in 2004, Vision 2030 presented the situation as it existed at that time.

It also articulated targets the nation wants to achieve by 2030, which are sustainable wealth and job creation - all clearly set out for within this time frame.

Clearly and unambiguously Namibia's industrial ambition is articulated in Vision 2030.

A series of seven National Development Plans guided implementation.

Two eye-catching news items in the media this week attract one's attention.

They reflect that there may just be a silver lining to that coronavirus cloud to help the country grow its industrial base.

The one has a macabre angle.

Reportedly the nation spends more than N$30 million annually on importing coffins.

The National Planning Commission has established a technical committee with the aim to facilitate the expansion and acceleration of coffin production in Namibia.

Encouragingly the Ministry of Industrialisation and Trade has already identified 58 micro, small and medium enterprises with the capacity to manufacture or assemble coffins.

A similar exercise identified garment makers with the capacity and expertise to produce masks in the early days of the Covid-19 lockdown.

One wonders if they have progressed to making other products.

Likewise, if a local carpenter can make a casket for the remains of a human, then producing school, office and domestic furniture should not be too challenging.

The other story is about a stimulus package initiative for the construction industry introduced by the presidential adviser on youth matters in November 2020.

Through this initiative 75 jobs were reportedly created in Windhoek.

Value-addition opportunities are surely the coronavirus cloud's silver lining.

And now is the time to grow Namibia's shallow and narrow manufacturing sector.

* Danny Meyer is reachable at [email protected]

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