The Covid-19 pandemic has caused huge economic devastation to both individuals and businesses which ultimately resulted in the decline of our economic activities and loss of income and jobs. It is therefore very important to take pride in supporting our local businesses including our Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) that have over the years phased stumbling blocks in accessing the markets for their products. We have drawn good lessons as a result of Covid-19, that it is very critical to be self-sufficient in case there is a shortage of imported products due to various global calamities such as the coronavirus.
The Buy Local-Grow Namibia campaign initiative was coined by the Ministry of Industrialisation and Trade with the main purpose to stimulate the local consumption of goods and services, create awareness on the importance of consuming our proudly locally manufactured goods and services and by extension to educate consumers about the economic and social advantages that local businesses bring to a community. The campaign further aims to connect both producers and retailers while educating the latter on the required standards for shelving in local retail shops.
The ultimate goal of this campaign is to create a thriving local economy by maximising the potential of local businesses and increasing their market share while ultimately finding shelve space for these local products. The campaign also plays a critical role in value addition to local products and increasing their marketing power.
Phase I of the buy local campaign focused primarily on our retailers to stock our locally made Namibian products while encouraging our people to take pride in consuming what is produced here both in terms of goods and services. Tremendous results have been achieved with the first phase of the campaign with some major retailers increasing their local sourcing by up to 40%. We are determined to continue with these efforts by supporting our local producers so that they can scale up and eventually make use of key trading arrangements such as the market access opportunity offered by the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
The reality on the ground is that our local market is dominated by foreign imported goods and that the local producers/manufacturers and entrepreneurs find it difficult to access retail shelf space for a variety of reasons, some of which we are trying to address through these initiatives. Some of the challenges relate to quality standards, access to finance and distribution channels to name a few. The Ministry of Industrialisation and Trade has thus continued to advocate for “Growth at Home” with the specific focus on the promotion of consuming what we produce and finding the market space for local produce through a multi-stakeholder partnership.
Phase II of the campaign has a specific focus on sensitising local producers, manufactures and entrepreneurs on branding and certification of their products to meet shelving standards as well as access to finance.
The Ministry of Industrialisation and Trade will continue to carry out extensive work in trying to complement the campaign activities and support local businesses in general. Among others, the ministry launched Namibia’s own barcode, also known as a product identification code, which is expected to ease the access and identification of local products in the local and global marketplace.
It is widely known that money spent at a locally owned business stays in the local economy and continues to strengthen the economic base of the community. There are other benefits to buying local as well. MSMEs especially make vital contributions to communities and neighbourhoods; they account for the largest share of net new jobs generated each year, and provide some of the most stable employment opportunities in our communities hence they need much support from all consumers.
This campaign is crucial in ensuring that our local businesses are part and parcel of our nation’s economic recovery plan from the Covid-19 pandemic. The Buy Namibia campaign would not be possible without the partnership with our private sector. The private sector has played an important role in mobilising Namibian consumers to buy local, as well as driving the promotion of the production of quality local products and services, especially during the first phase. This partnership has enabled Namibians to advance their own economically sustainable future by promoting the use of local products and services.
We know that there are various initiatives by the government and other stakeholders aimed at helping our local, small and medium businesses to form part of the mainstream economy. We all can play our roles in our individual capacities to achieve a common goal. I call on each and every Namibian to support this campaign through local purchases of our locally made products. I, therefore, wish to re-emphasise the ultimate goal of the Buy Namibia campaign, which is mainly to create a thriving local economy by maximising the potential of local businesses and increasing their market share and most importantly, creating the environment for Namibia to become a self-sustaining economy.