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Industrial capacity disparities need redress

2021-03-26  Albertina Nakale

Industrial capacity disparities need redress
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Albertina Nakale

Production and processing of raw materials will have a positive impact in terms of job creation and economic growth in Namibia, a local scientist has said.

University of Namibia (Unam) science faculty deputy dean Veikko Uahengo said the majority of products in the market are processed outside Namibia, including toilet paper, paint, toothpicks, copper wire, plastic containers, paper, food, cooking oil, zinc plates, organic solvents, but many of these, if not all, can be processed in Namibia. 

He therefore called for a paradigm shift towards the processing of raw materials as Namibians are too dependent on other countries. 

“These things look easy to do on paper. However, lawmakers need to work hard on some of the impeding existing laws that prevent local empowerments towards venturing into these areas. The laws in our country are too restrictive and kill an idea before it is realised,” Uahengo remarked. 

He believes the employment market is too dependent on external factors in critical pillars of economic growth, leaving Namibia with little control. 

Uahengo suggested that public and private sectors need a paradigm shift in their scope of operations to strengthen the economy and create new job opportunities. 

He further said education in Namibia is no longer career-driven these days, but rather employment opportunity-driven.

“Nowadays it is about which degree can guarantee me employment after graduation, rather than which field am I strongest at or, put differently, what opportunities can a recent graduate explore to solve a societal problem,” he maintained.

According to him, this tendency is found in the majority of freshmen entering universities these days, a very worrisome reality indeed, in the era of the so-called “knowledge-based economy”. 

His colleague, Unam Dean Faculty of Science Ndeyapo Nickanor, shared similar sentiments, saying the impact of raw materials processed elsewhere, rather than in the country, robs the local economy in terms of employment opportunities. 

Nickanor thus advised lawmakers in Namibia to promote industrialisation, adding it is high time Namibia tackles this problem to secure the future of the Namibian child.

“Education is pumping in too many graduates equipped with the same levels of qualifications in the market, which can only accommodate a certain number. The market capacity in Namibia needs to expand their industrial operational capacities, to open up new opportunities and create more employment opportunities for the graduates,” she stated. 

Nickanor said there is also a need to start scrutinising the government employment entry levels, which are understandably still at level 7 or 8 (Bachelor Degrees or Honours Degree) as set in the early nineties.

“The entry levels were rightly placed at these levels based on the human capacity at the time, which was rightly so. However, 30 years later, the job market has been saturated with level 7 and 8 qualifications, which have reached the threshold of what the market capacity requires,” she analysed. 

She suggests an urgent need to re-look government regulations regarding entry level qualifications, because the number of graduates with level 7 or 8 in the country at this stage has exceeded the industrial capacity in terms of the numbers and the nature of jobs performed by these qualifications. 

As a result, Nickanor argued that new graduates cannot be accommodated in the market, because it is already saturated, saying critically, the big issue in Namibia now is not the quality of graduates, but rather the industrial capacity. 

As an example, she cited many industries in Namibia (public and private) are still limiting their operations to the production of raw materials only, and then jump to the consumption of finished products, leaving the processing of these raw materials to other countries, and then import these items back as finished products, where Namibians now buy them at exorbitant prices.

2021-03-26  Albertina Nakale

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