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Opinion - The need to trigger commodity-based industrialisation

2021-11-17  Staff Reporter

Opinion - The need to trigger commodity-based industrialisation
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Elijah Mukubonda

 

“Growth at Home” is the theme chosen by the Ministry of Industrialisation and Trade (MIT) to reinforce the importance of accelerating economic growth, reducing income inequality and increasing employment. The theme subsequently became a strategy adopted by government for implementing Namibia’s first Industrial Policy and to attain the strategic objectives for manufacturing as outlined in the 4th National Development Plan.  

The “Growth at Home” strategy emphasises the importance of commodity-based industrialisation by strengthening local and national value chains and creating more efficient linkages within the economy, supported by improved logistics and infrastructure, improvements in the ease of doing business and ongoing dialogue and partnerships between government and the private sector. With an abundance and variety of mineral resources, Namibia has exploited the commodity boom by attracting investments in raw material extraction and improving strategic infrastructure to enhance the efficiency of transportation and logistics. 

Reliance on primary production and exports of raw materials nevertheless entails huge foregone economic gains and income through the lack of value-addition, the export of jobs to countries where value is added, and the exposure of risks due to the dependence on exhaustible commodities and fluctuations in demand and prices. Namibia’s manufacturing capacity and economic growth thus need to be accelerated to deliver equitable benefits to the whole of society, and reduce income inequality.

At the core of the strategy for manufacturing is, therefore, the need to trigger commodity-based industrialisation as the engine of growth and economic transformation. Namibia is endowed with significant human and natural resources that can be used to advance industrialisation and structural economic transformation through value- addition strategies in all sectors, but particularly in agriculture and agro-processing, fish processing and in mining and mineral beneficiation.

The fundamental point of departure is to make the most of available natural resources, and to add value to as many raw materials produced in the country as possible. There is a need to build on existing productive capacity and skills, but also to initiate new enterprises where necessary. In order to diversify the economy, the MIT is championing the “Growth at Home” strategy whose emphasis is on industrialisation, manufacturing and value-addition. The aim is to develop value chains that are based on raw materials available in Namibia, and to include the concept of regional value chains through which to accelerate regional economic integration. 

In this process, there is a need to identify all constraints and find solutions, and to provide targeted support to the private sector to rise up to the challenge. The Namibian economy is geared towards a higher level of value- addition and manufacturing and enhanced local supply-side capacity, as well as better co-ordination and collaboration between all role-players in the economy, including public-private dialogue. 

The ultimate focus is to ensure that the impact of work is visible through tangible improvements in terms of the capacity of local industries to produce efficiently and competitively, as well as in the socio-economic welfare of the citizens of the country through employment and business opportunities. The programmes of the MIT are geared at removing supply-side constraints, increase productive capacity and increase the competitiveness of Namibian industry in the domestic, regional and international markets. 


2021-11-17  Staff Reporter

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