WINDHOEK - Upper middle-income countries in Southern Africa, including Namibia, are among the most unequal societies in the world.
This inequality manifests in the form of significant development disparities, varying from personal and individual incomes to high levels of gender-based violence, high rates of HIV transmission and new infections among young people, high youth unemployment, and inequitable access to social services and economic opportunities.
This were the remarks of Deputy Minister of Economic Planning Pieter van der Walt at a multi-country dialogue held in Windhoek this week to discuss progress in advancing people-centered development in upper middle-income countries in Southern Africa
Van der Walt said a dialogue of this nature could not have come at a more opportune time as the world and particularly African countries respond to challenging global dilemmas under the sustainable development goals (SDGs) .
He said the idea of sustainability is a powerful one that calls for balanced and integrated consideration of the economic, social and environmental dimensions. Thus, economic growth will have to be socially inclusive, environmentally sustainable and human and animal friendly for co-existence to prevail. He added that the SDGs cannot be successfully achieved without inclusion and equity.
“Our most vulnerable populations should no longer be left as secondary consideration. It is important for us to deepen and sustain the improved socio-economic performance of the continent by harnessing science, technology and innovation. We also need to bridge the gap between the skills our educational systems produce and those that the private sector needs.”
United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Regional Director for East and Southern African Region Dr Julitta Onabanjo said upper middle-income countries (UMICs) and high-income countries have recorded accelerated growth in gross domestic product (GDP) in the past year with some countries currently recording downturns, stagnated growth and recession, often referred to as the middle-income trap.
She said the economic outlook for 2019 remains mixed with South Africa and Namibia projected to record less than two percent growth.
On life expectancy, although the life expectancy has risen to above 60 in all Southern African UMICs when compared to the median life expectancy at birth of 76 years from selected UMICs in other parts of the world, the Southern Africa UMICs fall below the mark. Mauritius ranks the highest with life expectancy at birth of 75 years while South Africa’s life expectancy at birth is 64 years.