Minerals are finite resources which over time get depleted. With the mining sector playing a significant role in the Namibian economy, government has initiated deliberate policy interventions to diversify the economy in order to reduce the country’s reliance on mining and to mitigate the economy’s vulnerability to shocks from commodity markets, including the mineral products markets. In terms of these strategies, government is prioritising funding support to industrialisation activities, infrastructure development, agricultural development, land reform, tourism development and skills development. Over N$7 billion is allocated to development interventions under this current budget to support these strategic policies aimed at increasing economic growth and job creation, representing an increase of 30 percent compared to the allocation for last year. An additional N$4 billion is to be sourced from the African Development Bank to complement internal resources towards development projects, mainly infrastructure. These projects will create employment opportunities both during and after construction phase through increased investment, improved business productivity and higher economic growth. The newly enacted public private partnership law will also enable the country to crowd in private investment and harness private sector capacity towards public infrastructure development and service delivery, all of which will create additional opportunities for employment. The new Public Procurement Act also creates a new avenue for local enterprise development and market access for local products, all of which will have positive spin off for employment creation. Similarly, government has also put in place an Equipment Aid Scheme to assist business start-up and facilitate operational efficiency of SMEs to create sustainable employment and increase output. Over 4500 jobs were created through this scheme. In addition to funding provided by the central government, the state also intervenes in the economy through [public enterprises]. Over the past financial year, the Development Bank of Namibia (DBN) investments amounted to N$2.4 billion of which 71 percent, or N$1.72 billion, went towards private sector development and infrastructure projects. About N$525 million of this was earmarked for business ventures for the previously disadvantaged Namibians, N$209 million for youth-owned enterprises and N$107 [million] for women-owned projects. These investments created an estimated 1400 permanent and 2500 temporary jobs directly. A new SME financing strategy and youth entrepreneurship, comprising of the venture capital fund, credit guarantee scheme and a training and mentorship program, has been adopted to tap into the potential of SMEs, which traditionally are the largest job creators and harness the innovation and entrepreneurship of our youth. The Harambe Prosperity Plan (HPP) provides for 121 youth enterprises to be created around the country to boost employment creation and SME driven economic growth for the youth by the youth. To come back to the mining sector, improved commodity prices are also expected to boost the sector’s performance and with that opportunities for employment and exports earnings. Further, as part of efforts to improve beneficiation from mineral products, the government policy for the sector is seeking to promote value addition to mineral products and strengthen tax compliance enforcement to optimise revenue collection and improve government financial capacity to strengthen its interventions in other areas of the economy, create jobs and tackle poverty. As you would be aware, sizeable investments were also made into mining technology acquisition to improve exploration and mining output, both onshore and offshore. The government is also working to ensure that the traditional mining areas in the country are supported to explore and develop the potential for other economic activities which can offer employment opportunities, including for those who may be retrenched from current mining projects. * Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila is the Prime Minister of Namibia. She made these comments in response to questions by New Era on what government was doing to contain the massive job losses looming in the country’s mining industry.
New Era Reporter
2018-08-03 09:34:42 11 months ago