President Hage Geingob yesterday warned that Namibia cannot talk about development and peace if the biggest elephant in the room, that of apartheid, is not addressed. “Our country is the most unequal and it is based on race because we have a colour question here. Other countries have (this) but you do not hear about it. In Namibia, there is a clear-cut case. You cannot deny that,” said Geingob who was speaking during a courtesy visit by the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) to State House yesterday.
The President stressed government must be supported when calling to address the question of inequality, noting the private sector may suffer severely if inequality disturbs the country’s peace and stability.
In 2020, Namibia was ranked as the second most unequal nation in the world by the World Bank, with a Gini coefficient of 0.591. This indicates that although Namibia as a nation generates high income, there are extreme inequalities in income distribution and living standards in the country.
Meanwhile, CEO of the Namibia Investment Promotion and Development Board (NIPDB) Nangula Uaandja yesterday also said the entity, which she now heads, was created to ensure effective engagement between the public and private sectors and to coordinate government response on various stages of investment.
Uaandja added that to combat Namibia’s high inequality requires inclusive economic growth that will keep the private sector at the forefront of tackling the country’s skewed income disparity. She also revealed that government has been working with the Harvard Growth Lab for Namibia’s benefit. The Growth Lab at the Harvard Centre works to understand the dynamics of economic growth and to translate those insights into more effective policymaking in developing countries.
“They gave a lot of recommendations that have come forth, such as identifying sectors that have growth and potential. The board was tasked to list these sectors as priorities for investment and approaching various investors in those sectors and make sure they invest in the Namibian economy,” Uaandja explained.
Geingob added the fight against Covid-19 strengthened collaboration between the public and private sector after NCCI, through the private sector, contributed some N$618 million to fight the impact of the pandemic.
Meanwhile, at yesterday’s meeting, NCCI president Bisey /Uirab said the chamber, as an active and participating agent of change and economic growth, crafted a new strategic roadmap for the next five years. This roadmap is set to determine the chamber’s vision and future goals and to propose developmental strategies, particularly in light of current challenges.
“Our direction calls for us to strengthen relations with government to influence policy direction so the environment is more favourable to doing business in the country, and so to stimulate economic growth,” explained /Uirab.
He noted that NCCI commits to supporting and ensuring Namibian businesses remain competitive both nationally and internationally. Thus far, the NCCI has rededicated itself to give special attention to the depleting small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) sector, as this is the cornerstone of the economy.
He further emphasised that the private sector still calls for the creation of a high-level platform of engagement to speak openly with government. This, he said, will enable the private sector to create instruments and mechanisms to become a strategic partner to tackle issues of increasing national productivity, generate employment, increase income, and stimulate economic growth.
“We are hoping to be able to see private financing play a bigger role, including in infrastructure projects and then, of course, the role of the private sector in investing in the productive economy,” /Uirab stated.
Joining hands…The NCCI board (left) yesterday paid a courtesy visit to President Hage Geingob and other high ranking government officials (right).