WINDHOEK - Agricultural Bank of Namibia (Agribank) chief executive officer (CEO) Sakaria Nghikembua has urged government to be strategic and invest more in climate resilience, saying it will help minimise the impact of drought.
“We should invest in tapping our water resources wherever they are located. We should create country-wide water networks. We should make this water available for year-round irrigation to citizens across the country at affordable levels,” Nghikembua said.
In his year-end massage, Nghikembua said in this difficult operating environment, the Bank has continued to advance loans and provide training and mentorship services to farmers, thereby helping create jobs and mitigate poverty.
“We have also maintained credible financial performance, which helps to ensure we place the Bank on a sustainable trajectory. We will intensify these efforts in the New Year,” he said.
Nghikembua said the growth momentum in the domestic economy has continued to be negative overall and has consistently pitched below levels last seen in 2008, with incoming Gross Domestic Product (GDP) data for 2019, showing the lowest quarterly growth rates of -2.9 and -2.6 percent in the first and second quarters, respectively.
Also, he said the weak growth in the retail and wholesale, construction and manufacturing sectors, coupled with the prolonged drought, created a difficult year for the country’s economy.
“The continued contraction in government spending, constant reliance on public funds for economic activities, combined with unfavourable climatic conditions, have exacerbated the recession, making it difficult for the economy to recover,” he added.
“The extended low-growth environment appears unique to Namibia’s growth path. Economic recovery can only result from collective action by the private and public sectors,” he advised.
Nghikembua said private investment needs to happen to allow public resources to be applied to the creation and sustenance of public goods such as education and health, social business (youth and SME development), and transport infrastructure.
“Given the enormous challenges the country is facing – from climate change to the urgency to lift people out of poverty, especially the youth – we now, more than ever, need all hands on deck,” he said.
He said there is a need for government, business, labour and all stakeholders to collaborate to improve economic prospects, stimulate growth, create jobs and alleviate poverty.
“Each organisation must intensely ask itself ‘what are we doing to contribute?’; ‘what are we doing for youth unemployment?’; ‘what are we doing for the empowerment of women?” he said.
Looking ahead, Nghikembua said the local economic pundits, Simonis Storm Securities, expect GDP to increase by 0.9 percent and 1.5 percent in 2020 and 2021, respectively, mainly on the back of better rainfall prospects for the 2019/20 rainfall season that could result in improved agricultural sector performance.
This, according to him, is a huge conditional leap of faith, as it would take years for the sector to recover.
Furthermore, he said the mega road and infrastructure projects expected in 2020 could potentially restore growth in the construction industry.
2019-12-17 07:43:17 | 7 months ago