• August 4th, 2020

Letter: The Sahel-Sahara country is a role model for development in Africa

Mustafa Mahmoud

Namibia, where the Sahel meets the desert, a rarely heard of African country, is located on the southwest coast of Africa on the Atlantic Ocean between Angola, South Africa, Botswana and Zambia, on an area of 826 thousand square kilometers, inhabited by as low as 2.6 million people.

Namibia has been a huge success since its independence from South Africa in 1990, and accelerated in the last two years, despite the severe suffering in the elimination of apartheid, and despite the geographical area and its alienation (the entire desert) with the decline of the population and scattered in isolated desert communities. Some of its population is nomadic and is not fully integrated with the rest of the population, but the government has paid much attention to a number of vital areas. 

Educationally, the government pays special attention to the educational system, which is reflected in its decision to provide secondary education free of charge [along with] pre-secondary levels.

The Namibian government has developed a preventive health system and paid great attention to the health of its citizens, particularly in the eradication of malaria, reducing the annual incidence rate by 97% over the past 10 years. Namibia provides health care at low cost not only to its citizens, but also to its neighbours, especially in Angola. Namibians believe in helping each other. No one is talking about building a wall between their neighbours from corrupt poor countries. There is regional investment promotion and student exchange.

Economically, the Gini coefficient for measuring income inequality has fallen by about 15 points since 1993 from one of the highest levels of income inequality in the world, despite rising income inequality in many countries of the world. The poverty rate has fallen by more than half, from 69% in 1993 to less than 30%, and the extreme poverty rate from 53% to 23%. Namibia also maintained strong GDP growth of around 4.5% in 2015.

In the press, Namibia ranked 23rd in the Press Freedom Index of Reporters Without Borders, outperforming the United States (48) and European countries such as Spain (29), France (32) and the United Kingdom (33).

Transparency is a critical factor in this process, and for this reason government support for press freedom is so important. 

Namibian President Hage Geingob believes that the press must defend the freedoms it won after independence and help provide transparency that protects the people from the monopoly of privileges and patronage of certain groups.

The Government of Namibia has realized that abundant natural resources can easily become a curse, enriching the few at the expense of many. The authorities also know that unless Namibia’s natural wealth is invested in the infrastructure and productive capacities of its people, the depletion of resources would make the country poorer, not richer. It also knows that failure to make the most of the country’s resources for the people of Namibia and to review investment laws and mining contracts to this end is irresponsible.

The World Bank classifies Namibia as a middle-income country, but the authorities insist that Namibia is a developing country. There is no doubt that Namibia has its problems; the unemployment rate remains high, at 28%, and Namibia faces a high level of HIV infection with about 17% of its population infected.

Namibia is proving that even countries that begin with serious constraints such as racism, colonialism, inequality and delayed growth can chart a path towards shared prosperity, and their achievement deserves international recognition and emulation.

Staff Reporter
2019-12-13 08:09:15 | 7 months ago

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