Swakopmund — The time has come for young people to be focused and proactive in the areas of economic development to match the political independence Namibia achieved with economic emancipation.
This is according to minister in the presidency Christina //Hoebes, who was speaking on behalf of the deputy prime minister, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, during the official opening of the 'Discover Namibia Intra-Africa Expo and Business Summit', hosted by the Africa Economic Leadership Council (AELC) at the Swakopmund Hotel and Entertainment Centre.
The three-day event started yesterday in Swakopmund.
Various speakers and exhibitors within Africa to promote Intra-African trade as well as to seek economic opportunities within Africa by capitalising on African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) are in attendance.
Speakers from Namibia, Japan, Nigeria, Ghana, Rwanda, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Cameroon discuss tourism, banking, agriculture logistics trade and finance, among others, at the event.
The AfCFTA is a free trade area that was founded in 2018, with trade commencing on 1 January 2021.
It was created by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement among 54 of the 55 African Union nations.
Namibia has one of the youngest populations in Africa, and it is estimated to have a staggering 50.30% youth unemployment rate, according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
The 2018 National Labour Force Survey results point to an increased need to address youth unemployment, which is estimated to have increased from 43% in 2016 to 46% by 2018.
The most recent figures from the Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA) indicate that the country's overall unemployment rate dropped slightly from 34% in 2016 to 33.4% in 2018.
//Hoebes said to boost trade among Africans, the continent's young people must develop interest to participate in all sectors of the economy.
She says young Namibians have the opportunity to capitalise on the emerging sectors and opportunities, such as the developing green hydrogen as well as the oil and gas industry after the discovery of oil in Namibia.
"The youth should be on the lookout for these opportunities and in the meanwhile equip themselves with skills needed for these sectors to grow. Other industries that also have great potential to move our continent to industrialisation and create sustainable jobs are agriculture, followed by tourism and technology," she said.
Heinrich Hafeni, one of the initiators of the summit, also explained the idea of the event is to encourage young entrepreneurs to network and foster better trade relations that will allow trade within Africa.
He added they have so far established branches in South Africa, Namibia and Botswana - and will soon also branch out to Zambia.
"The vision is to trade among ourselves and boost our African economies. So, let's trade and build sound networks that will allow us to capitalise on the AFTCA. We want a total transformation of the continent's human and natural resources, including turning our mineral wealth into generational wealth for all Africans. I believe we can do that as one continent," Hafeni said.