• June 7th, 2020

Youth unemployment demands our urgent attention

Reports on Wednesday that made front-page news should be a wake-up call to our policymakers because unemployment fuels resentment and is a potential source for social unrest.

Namibia has grappled with double-digit unemployment for successive years according to data from the Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA).  Last year the data agency put this figure at over 33 percent though the same figure in the past reached an all-time high of 37.6 percent.  

Political semantics and the global economic meltdown aside, collectively we should not have allowed the unemployment rate especially among our able-bodied, youth some of them university graduates, to have gotten this high. Like the proverbial ostrich that buries its head in the sand to avoid the harsh, unpleasant realities above ground, it seems we have all, as a nation acted with complicity wishing the high, double-digit unemployment figure facing the Namibia will just go away.  

Every sane Namibian citizen should be scared that for such a sparsely populated country we have 3 000 jobless, hungry youth chasing after nine cleaner vacancies as experienced at the Windhoek Central Hospital. The stampede for jobs on Wednesday is a stark reminder that many Namibians are without work because both the private and public sectors have not been able to create jobs.  

The contraction of our economy and the jobs made redundant through retrenchments as a result of restructuring exercises and the lay-offs of tens of thousands of workers in mining, fishing, agriculture and other sectors only compounded this social problem that has culminated in widespread poverty.
According to the World Bank Namibia despite its high-income classification has a poverty rate of 26.9 percent coupled with a double-digit unemployment.  Namibia is not poor. 

It is endowed with high-value diamonds, uranium, copper, gold, lead, tin, lithium, zinc, salt and vanadium. 
It is also blessed with a rich marine fishery that could possibly be the envy of many of its contemporaries.
Policymakers have not done very well to capitalise on the country’s riches to empower and uplift the majority of Namibians out of poverty through the political, social and economic policies and only served to create a few elite - from the previously economically disadvantaged and excluded blacks.

We should as a country re-think our policies to ensure the minerals that we have are not exported in their raw form and ensure jobs are created through value addition. 
We should invest in value addition as a means to create jobs so that our people could live in dignity and provide for their families. 

The fishing rights should not only be allocated to a few elite but they should also benefit all deserving Namibians and youths who could form cooperatives. 
Our unemployed youths should be capacitated so that they can successfully bid for tenders. This will go a long way towards empowering them.

The country’s mineral riches should benefit the poor and the jobless youths. Allowing the current status quo to continue will foment resentment and could result in social unrest whose consequences are too dire to contemplate. We should look at creative ways to create tangible, pensionable jobs. A hungry man is indeed an angry man. Investments should be made in the right projects and sectors that can create jobs - effectively those that have a multiplier effect in the economic value chain.

Research clearly shows there is a link between joblessness and social unrest. That said our policymakers should as the servants of the people prioritise employment creation and empowerment so that no one is left out economically. When jobs are created there is peace and the economy will benefit from the disposable incomes of Namibian youths with decent jobs.

Staff Reporter
2019-11-01 08:17:41 | 7 months ago

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