Plans, plans and more plans. As a country, we are good at that.
This week, the High-Level Panel on the Namibian Economy presented their second and final report with a 10-point plan to President Hage Geingob on how Namibia’s fortunes must be turned around.
The plan provides a clear roadmap of what needs to be done for a complete economic revival with action items for each of the ten priority areas.
Among the key ideas are how to create macro-economic stability. As a country, we are heavily indebted and cannot borrow any further. Namibia’s budget deficit is now at 52% of the gross domestic product. Therefore, there is a need to focus more on investment and export promotion.
The plan also tackles the need to get more investments in the water and electricity sectors. It is a fact that we have been planning for years to improve the two sectors. We now need to start rolling the plans out. The Germans, Chinese and Russians all want to build desalination plants but we continue to do studies.
Namibia’s state-owned enterprises are divided into commercial and non-commercial entities. There are 22 commercial SOEs where, while working alongside unions revolutionary, changes can be made to result in 100% ownership. It might sound too drastic but the government needs to give up some ownership to allow partners to come into the commercial SOEs to create room for them to live up to mandates, including that of securing more jobs and better service delivery.
Another issue is the housing crisis Namibia is facing.
Close to 900 000 people live in informal settlements and Namibia’s housing backlog currently stands at 110 000 housing units. It increases at an annual rate of nearly 3 700.
For example, the urbanisation rate of Windhoek alone stands at 4% annually. The expectation is that by 2030, Windhoek will have 645 355 residents.
We know that the main challenge is exorbitant prices, which are partly created by the mismatches between the demand for housing and what can be supplied. There is generally a lack of housing funding for low-income and middle-income groups.
A Bank of Namibia study of 2011 also concluded that 70% of Namibians are excluded from access to credit and cannot access urban freehold land due to, amongst others, limited disposable income, poverty and exclusion from conventional home loan facilities.
In the meantime, statistics from the Namibia Statistics Agency show that the urban population has increased from 28% in 1991 to 42% in 2011. Moreover, it is currently estimated to have reached around 50%.
The above housing statistics show that we have done assessments to identify the needs. What we now need is action. We need to make more land available to the people, give them collateral, boost the construction sector and help eliminate shantytowns.
The current economic climate calls for bold actions.
As the chairperson of the high-level panel, Johannes !Gawaxab, put it: doing nothing is not a choice. It is time for the implementation of painful decisions in the best interest of the country and its people.
When he opened the first Cabinet session this month, President Geingob said the country’s leadership in various spheres needs to transform the thinking, attitudes and actions into winning against poverty, unemployment, income and wealth inequality, economic exclusion and other challenges facing Namibia.
It must start with action.
2020-02-28 07:32:22 | 4 months ago