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Vaccination is our only hope… !Gawaxab says Covid vaccines most important economic policy

2021-10-11  Steven Klukowski

Vaccination is our only hope… !Gawaxab says Covid vaccines most important economic policy
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KEETMANSHOOP - Bank of Namibia governor Johannes !Gawaxab believes the only way to fix the country’s limping economy, which has been hard-hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, is for citizens to get vaccinated against the virulent disease.

“For the country’s economy to open up again and grow lies totally in our hands,” said !Gawaxab during a public lecture at the weekend at Keetmanshoop. Despite government ensuring wider access to Covid-19 vaccines, a considerable number of Namibians are still vaccine-hesitant, while uptake has also been affected by individuals spreading misinformation and disinformation about the Covid-19 vaccines. 

Thus far, only a little over 206 000 Namibians are considered fully vaccinated, while over 284 000 have received the first dose. !Gawaxab warned that vaccine hesitancy could lead to the authorities imposing stricter public health measures, which would be disastrous for the economy. “Trivialising Covid-19 and vaccine hesitancy can be disastrous as the country is not out of the woods yet. Hence, stepping up vaccination is a crucial element of reviving the economy, which needs to enjoy the support of everyone,” he said. He added that the revival of the tourism sector is largely dependent on citizens getting vaccinated. “As a result, more tourist accommodation facilities and attractions will reopen, bringing in much-needed financial resources and furthermore creating employment opportunities,” he observed. !Gawaxab remains hopeful and expressed confidence that Namibia can bounce back from the economic scarring accentuated by the pandemic. “However, the Covid-19 pandemic, being a historic calamity of unprecedented proportions, has the potential to wipe out the good progress on all fronts,” he warned. The central bank governor continued that whilst the setbacks are evident at both individual and national levels, the pandemic has provided an opportunity to reset and rebuild the economy on sound fundamentals. “Building on its strong points, Namibia can emerge from the constraints posed by Covid-19 and addressing its challenges with urgency and resolve, a return to vibrant growth is in sight,” said !Gawaxab. He explained “there are several promising projects and initiatives to reinvigorate growth, whilst continuous reforms and better macroeconomic management, coupled with investments and adapting to a changing landscape, are inevitable and crucial to secure a recovery, going forward”. “For this reason, the central bank has continued to support the economy through interventions implemented since April 2020, which have softened the blow on the economy and provided much-needed relief to struggling borrowers,” he added. !Gawaxab cited the unprecedented relaxation of certain regulations by the bank as the regulator of commercial banks, including making it possible for banks to lend to critical sectors in the economy, while also providing borrowers an opportunity to negotiate repayment conditions on their loans. “These relief measures, coupled with a low interest environment and low inflation, continue to support growth in the economy,” said the central bank governor. According to the central bank, about 13 000 Namibians lost their jobs during 2020. More citizens are also being laid off as a direct consequence of the pandemic. The job losses and reduced income have affected the ability of some owners to repay their instalment credit due to the prolonged weak economic environment, now worsened by the pandemic. Professor Lischen Haoses˗Gorases from the University of Namibia’s southern campus in Keetmanshoop urged Namibians to aggressively spread the message of the importance of vaccination in order to attract more investments for the country.  “How can possible (foreign) investors come to a country whose residents are hesitant to get vaccinated or are sick?” she asked rhetorically. Another participant during the public lecture, Ben Cloete, who hails from Rosh Pinah, called on government to sensitise people in rural areas to become more aware of the importance of getting vaccinated. “Traditional leaders must speak to their people at grassroots level, explaining the message in the simplest terms to these less fortunate people, imploring them to get vaccinated,” he advised. 








2021-10-11  Steven Klukowski

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