• 12-month reprieve for NSFAF defaulters
• 2% of public service jobs reserved for interns
• 62% Govt jobs do not require prior work experience
• Disability grant increased to N$1 300
• 1 252 new plots serviced
• 1 282 housing units delivered
President Hage Geingob yesterday assured the nation that his administration has made considerable progress in job creation, decreasing poverty, addressing the housing crisis and strengthening infrastructural development. In his state of the nation address that lasted over one hour, Geingob told a joint sitting of parliament that on average, government has spent more than N$412 million per month on social safety nets, and another N$160 million per year on drought assistance. “The government’s social safety nets have helped to alleviate hunger and poverty among many vulnerable households,” he said in his address, while drawing lukewarm applause in a show of workplace camaraderie among parliamentarians.
Geingob said the consolidation of the food bank into a modified, conditional basic income grant (BIG), in the form of cash transfers of N$500, will go a long way to provide daily necessities and boost micro-economic activities in communities.
He further pledged a five-fold increase in funding for children with disability, from N$250 to N$1 300 starting next year, much to the delight of MPs.
To solve the housing problem, Geingob stated that his administration has serviced 1 252 plots around the country, and an additional 1 282 housing units have been erected with funds from the federal government, local governments and private developers.
In terms of sanitation, 731 toilets and ablution facilities were constructed in rural areas to eliminate open defecation and meet sanitation targets.
Out of the remaining 483 bucket toilets countrywide, the President said a total of 366 bucket toilets were replaced with proper flush toilets and connected to the sewer systems in Kalkfeld and Fransfontein.
Also, one informal settlement, Matutura Extension 1 in Swakopmund, was formalised last year.
Similarly, 36 new settlements were proclaimed in the period under review, and are now due for land surveying and servicing.
“We will continue to invest in the social sectors to yield tangible improvements in the lives of fellow countrymen and women,” Geingob said. Concerning ports infrastructure, he observed that key investments will be made in the country’s road, rail and ports infrastructure.
The country now has five main roads under development, totalling 774 kilometres, four of which are already complete, totalling 249km.
He mentioned the 90-kilometre Swakopmund-Henties Bay segment, 30km of phase one of the Swakopmund-Walvis Bay dual carriageway, and 10km of the Mandume Ndemufayo-Sam Nujoma Drive section, as well as the 110-km Gobabis road to Aranos, Onderombapa.
“TransNamib and NamPort will play a crucial role in absorbing and delivering the cargo destined for our trading partners through our port and rail infrastructure,” he said.
As a result, strategic investments such as TransNamib’s N$2.4 billion loan from the Development Bank of Southern Africa to upgrade its locomotive fleet are being prioritised and fast-tracked into these parastatals, Geingob noted.
He added that the country has too many young people which the economy is unable to absorb. Therefore, government is committed to implementing targeted programmes that can create new opportunities for young people.
The informal economy, start-up and entrepreneurship national policy is also being crafted by the Ministry of Industrialisation and Trade, with a view to providing the requisite framework for mainstreaming incentives and business infrastructure for SMEs.
“N$45 million has been allocated to the Development Bank of Namibia this financial year to support SMEs and youth entrepreneurship financing facilities,” Geingob said.
The draft Public Procurement Code of Good Practice by the finance ministry further provides for the preferential treatment and reservation for youth-owned businesses for contracts valued at N$50 million or less.
Furthermore, a green concessional loan facility targeting youth entrepreneurs will be launched by the Environmental Investment Fund to provide up to N$2 million per viable investment.
He said this facility is expected to grow by N$300 million over the Medium-term Expenditure Framework.
Also, tertiary education is highly subsidised by the government, and it is reflected through sustained allocations to the higher education ministry with N$3.3 billion this financial year, of which N$840 million is for the University of Namibia (UNAM), while N$455 million is earmarked for the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) and N$1.4 million will go to the Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF).
“We are aware that many NSFAF beneficiaries are finding it difficult to pay back their loans due to a scarcity of economic opportunities and other challenges,” Geingob said, adding that government will provide some relief in the form of amnesty for NSFAF debt repayments for a period of 12 months.
“The line ministry and the Ministry of Finance are directed to work out modalities to waive interest on the loans of all NSFAF beneficiaries,” he continued.
Similarly, Geingob said government efforts to promote the development of a green hydrogen and ammonia industry are starting to bear tangible results.
“Namibia is expected to attract investments of US$9 billion. We expect these investments to produce 5 gigawatts of green energy, 2 million tonnes of Ammonia, and significant employment opportunities for Namibians,” he stated.
However, he was quick to add that this will not happen overnight.
“Investment is deferred gratification. But in the process, there will be some short to medium-term spin-offs, especially for the youth,” he noted.
Geingob said earlier last month that government launched the 'youth for hydrogen' scholarship programme, which will facilitate capacity-building for the emerging green hydrogen industry while addressing youth unemployment.
“The programme is targeted at unemployed graduates and young Namibians interested in pursuing vocational education and training in
green hydrogen,” Geingob said, adding that N$56 million has been availed for this initiative. “I encourage all young Namibians to apply for this programme before the closing date of 31 May 2022,” he urged.
In the tourism and hospitality sector, Geingob said the government has
continued to coordinate the implementation of the Tourism Revival Initiative, launched in June 2020. Consequently, tourist arrivals increased by 37% in 2021, compared to a decline of 89.3% in 2020.
“This is a sector that directly employs many young people and procures from small businesses.
The upward trend in tourist arrivals is, therefore, encouraging,” he added.
He also announced that the government will during July this year host the ‘African Youth in Tourism Innovation Summit’, a platform that will bring together and encourage young people involved in tourism enterprises to become active participants in the sector.