Government is working to end years of economic stagnation – and this week’s Economic Growth Summit was a critical tonic towards that realisation.
Last week’s state visit to Namibia by Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa, where the road to improved trade was cleared for smooth sailing, also complemented the principle of this week’s summit to revive our ailing economy and stimulate jobs.
The summit, whose successes must be measured not by the waxing lyrical at the Safari Hotel but by practical implementation of its resolutions, came at a time when the nation’s cry for pragmatic interventions thundered loudest.
It has been resolved so far that laws and regulations that are deemed a barrier to investment must be reviewed. The Public Procurement Act, as originally well intended as it is, is among pieces of legislation that need some touch-up especially its tiresome bureaucratic aspect.
If we want to fast-track development, all tools at our disposal, including relevant laws, must be such that they make efficiency easily attainable.
Another aspect of the summit that we thought was revolutionary was the policy shift insofar as attracting foreign investment is concerned.
Foreign direct investment in particular, which is long-term in nature, would be key in resurrecting our economy on a sustainable basis.
It was critical that we removed the 25 percent cessation clause from NEEEF, which demanded equity for local companies or individuals into new investors, mostly white-owned.
Also great was President Geingob’s announcement that NEEEF is soon becoming a law. It has remained a Bill for way too long and smart investors would not set up shop here until they were sure of policy certainty regarding NEEEF.
In recent years, Zimbabwe had to eat humble pie with its Indigenisation Policy, which sought to grab 51 percent of all foreign companies coming to invest in the country. That was economic radicalism take too far. The need to redress the skewed ownership of productive assets is genuine but it has to be approached cautiously for the preservation of society.
What we hope the summit has done is propose reservation for key sectors deemed as strategic for local participation.
In Zimbabwe, the diamond and platinum sectors remain firmly reserved for local domination, with ownership of foreign participating companies limited to 41 percent maximum stakes.
Government must be realistic on what sectors to preserve for locals, especially knowing that many a Namibian does not have resources for capital investment into cost-intensive ventures such as mining.
The fact that Epangelo Mining owns less than 10 percent of Navachab Mine and that government only owns three percent in the longest-running and one of the largest open pit uranium mines in the world, Rössing, tells us just how much investment would be required to build and to run some sectors of our economy.
But while we may not have resources, we must not surrender ourselves to foreign domination, as there remains a million ways to negotiate other concessions that would ensure local beneficiation from our own resources – be it minerals or something else.
These reforms would complement the recently adopted African Continental Free Trade Area, which promises to significantly increase intra-African trade and investment and enhance the integration of African markets into the global economy.
When the continental trade agreement goes full-throttle, Namibia must have readied herself to pounce on the opportunities that the deal presents.
2019-08-02 07:46:35 17 days ago