KEETMANSHOOP - Youth unemployment and underemployment constitute central challenges to Namibia’s development, said youth minister Agnes Tjongarero.
According to Tjongarero, the scale of youth unemployment in the country requires bold and ambitious approaches to successfully address the issue.
She said this while delivering her keynote address during the launch of the ‘Youth Self-Employment Project in Horticulture’ in Keetmanshoop yesterday.
In light thereof, she explained government’s strategic intent as that of developing and harnessing the group to contribute towards employment creation and self-employment economic growth which in return speaks to the Harambee Prosperity Plan’s call for the expansion of youth participation in social and economic development.
“The objective of this self-employment project, particularly horticulture that we are launching today is to increase the skills, productivity and income potential of today and tomorrow’s out of school youth in peri-urban and rural areas,” she said.
The minister added the youth should stop begging others for food when they can produce it themselves.
“I want regions to feed themselves, let us start to produce food for ourselves and if there is a surplus sell it locally first and export it to other countries later,” Tjongarero strongly emphasised.
She also advised the youth that there are many opportunities in the agricultural sector which can raise billions of dollars.
The line minister also informed the group that in life, young people always face heavier barriers to become successful entrepreneurs as opposed to adults.
She then urged the youth present to grab the opportunity and use it sparingly and further to believe they can succeed, keeping in mind that their work ethics will determine their success or failure.
Keetmanshoop mayor Gaudentia Kröhne explained the primary objective of horticulture as that of increasing local production of fruit and vegetables and furthermore to reduce dependency on imported horticulture fresh produce.
“The fact that a number of our local young people have been given the opportunity to take part in this vital project is heart-warming,” said the mayor in appreciation to the youth ministry.
She also regarded such initiatives as proof of government’s commitment to improve the socio-economic reality of the disadvantaged individuals in society.
Kröhne also implored the beneficiaries from the project to make full use of the opportunity granted in order to create a better future for themselves.
Also speaking at the event, Karasburg East constituency councillor Dennis Coetzee informed the youth that the community will now look up to them to take ownership of the project and run it like never before. “You should approach it with the necessary commitment, dedication and aggressive advertising in order to attract more youth participation,” he added.
Information provided indicated that the project seeks to provide 84 disadvantaged young men and women between the ages of 16-35 years with access to business development services through horticulture to realise their full economic potential. Its geographic scope would include all 14 regions to ensure the entire country coverage whilst six beneficiaries will be identified per region.
According to statistics provided by the Namibia Statistics Agency in 2018, the youth comprise 62% of Namibia’s economically active population of which 39.2% of them were unemployed by then.