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VP fingers commodity overdependence for economic downturn

2018-08-29  Helvy Shaanika

VP fingers commodity overdependence for economic downturn

Helvy Shaanika 

ONGWEDIVA – Vice-President Nangolo Mbumba believes Namibia’s overdependence on commodities is the mother of all problems facing the local economy today, calling for diversification of industries.

Economic headwinds are in part attributed to poor global commodity prices, with Namibia heavily dependent on minerals for foreign exchange.  

Speaking at the opening of the Ongwediva Annual Trade Fair (OATF) on Monday, Mbumba said the ongoing economic contractions, which he attributed to the recent economic downturn worldwide, are a wake-up call for not only the government, but the business sector as well.

“It is clear, more so now than ever before, that we need economic dynamism from the private sector to bring about new contributors to our GDP driven by innovation, commitment and promotion of beneficiation. We can no longer depend on the extraction and export of raw materials,” said Mbumba. 

In the same vein, Mbumba added that the country needs to have a sense of urgency from the public sector to come up with business ideas and business dynamics that will change the course of lacklustre business facilitation.

The VP thus urged government institutions and ministries to be pro-active and action-driven and not wait for the head of state or the prime minister to highlight existing problems, or react only once a certain situation is published by the media.
“Let the relevant ministers and their officials take the lead in this regard, consult with the people on the ground, present original solutions, and effectively address the situation at once. It is not some other experts out there, but we, both in government and the private sector, who as partners by necessity will need to turn this economy around by taking the required steps,” he said. 

Mbumba gave an example of the drastic decline of economic activities and job losses at Oshikango town that was recently aired on NBC. He said economic challenges such as those of Oshikango need pragmatic solutions and should be tackled head-on. 

“When we speak of creating an enabling environment for industrialisation, some of the fundamental aspects we should consider include incentivising our investment and business environment, reducing customs barriers and a myriad of bureaucratic bottlenecks and red tape, facing both domestic and foreign investors, and the need to change our attitudes positively towards local and foreign investments, and to desist from appearing as an investment-hostile people, by adjusting our mindsets towards a more investment friendly viewpoint, and that includes all of us, including politicians, civil servants, administrators, labour, and even the Namibian media,” he said.

Mayor of Ongwediva Angeline Angula said OATF speaks to the national agendas and programmes including the Harambee Prosperity Plan (HPP), NDP5 and the government’s decentralisation policy. 

“In fact OATF is systematically consolidating pillars; such as effective governance through the existence of various government ministries and SOEs here, economic advancement through the participation by players in the private sector at all levels, social progression, through the involvement of training centres and local authorities. Our local economy is thriving at this point,” said Angula.

This year’s OATF is celebrated under the theme ‘Creating an enabling environment for an industrialised local economy.’

•••• Caption (Mbumba): 

2018-08-29  Helvy Shaanika

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