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Opinion - A decade for rural development and transformation

2021-01-13  Staff Reporter

Opinion - A decade for rural development and transformation

Gotlieb Kalombo

One of the objectives of the Namibian Vision 2030 is “ to accomplish the transformation of Namibia into a knowledge-based, highly competitive, industrialised and eco-friendly nation, with sustainable economic growth and a high quality of life”. 
From the look of the current state of our rural constituencies, they are far away from achieving this objective.

This should be a decade of capacity building at the local level to facilitate economic growth at rural constituencies. 
It is high time for the central and regional government to shift development towards rural development. Socio-economic development can only happen at the local level if the regional councils focus on promoting and developing resources, which their regions have comparative advantages in. 

Development can only come from local resources if such resources are transformed into economic activities. 
Transforming local resources into economic activities achieves regional economic vitalisation (industries, microenterprises and entrepreneurship), which promotes local labour absorption and reduces the flow of the labour force to urban areas.
Most rural constituencies are rich in natural resources (groundwater, land, indigenous fruit trees and livestock). 

Having these resources and being supplemented by investment, infrastructure and relevant education, then we have rural economic ground that can create agribusinesses; community based businesses; community owned enterprises; community industries and factories. 
Investment is desperately needed at local level in order to transform traditional activities into economic activities for market value. 
For example, women in rural areas extract Marula juice and oil from Marula fruits for income and consumption purposes. 
Investment brings opportunities for the development of small industries in rural areas that will facilitate modern production of traditional products. 

Having modern production technology women can produce Marula juice and oil for retail market.
Rural constituencies have availability of land. If the available land in rural areas is serviced and developed for agricultural purposes and if relevant education and training is provided, constituencies will have vegetable farms, crop farms, fruit farms, small livestock farms and poultry farms for consumption and market. Out of farming, production industries and factories can be built. 
For example, eggs production, juice production, dairies production, meat production and skin production that can be turned into shoe manufacturing, furniture manufacturing and clothes production. The list is endless.

Economic development in rural areas can only happen if the local constituents are given education related to the economic activities in their areas. 
Meaning, special education and training is needed for our semi-literate people and it should be done in languages they understand. Therefore, it is high time for the central and regional government to invest in rural constituencies if Namibia is to be industrialised by 2030.
Many rural constituencies lack physical and social infrastructures to enhance economic growth of the constituency. Transforming rural constituencies from communal activities to economic activities remains a dream if the regional government does not focus on developing infrastructures in rural areas. 

Infrastructures stand as a ground and strengthen rural-urban linkages in order to promote rural-urban trading. Infrastructures are foundations of economic growth and they promote and attract investment from the private sector and individuals.
To conclude, Vision 2030 is just nine years and 11 months from today. Rural development is still in the grave and needs to be resurrected by the regional government if this country is to be industrialised by 2030. Therefore, the government and all other stakeholders should invest in rural areas to promote economic growth and social development.

2021-01-13  Staff Reporter

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