EVEN though Namibia decries the ‘upper middle-income country’ World Bank classification – which simply classifies Namibia as a well-to-do country – recent completed infrastructural developments should make every Namibian proud to say we are indeed a fast developing country compared to fellow African states.
Just recently, Namibia inaugurated the 60km Ondangwa-Oshikango railway-line worth N$608 million and the simultaneous inauguration of the Rev. Theofilus Hamutumbangela station - two highly laudable achievements that will bolster trade within the SADC region.
A few weeks, ago Namibia also unveiled the Rundu-Elundu road, which is a significant feat considering the fact the 370 km road is one of the largest projects undertaken by the government since independence. The Rundu/Elundu road stretches from Kavango Region to Elundu/Oushake in the Ohangwena Region.
This road project cost N$800 million with our government patriotically availing N$202,7 million, while the Japan International Cooperation Agency generously contributed N$607,8 million to this project of national importance.
Previously, subsistence farmers in the surroundings of Otjinene, in Omaheke region, had to transport their excess produce of livestock via an uneven bumpy gravel road that is often difficult to access during the rainy season. Surely this posed market access challenges to the farmers. Not to mention the difficulty of accessing essential services, such as health care, education and other social services.
There is now a tarred road covering nearly 130 kilometres (km) connecting Gobabis to Otjinene and, when completed, it would connect the Omaheke Region to both the Otjozondjupa and Oshikoto regions at Grootfontein.
Communities in the Kunene Region have for long taken detour roads, using dangerous gravel roads to Oshakati through Ruacana. They used the same road to travel to Windhoek. A new tarred road now connects Opuwo to Kamanjab in the west, to Oshakati in the south, and work is in progress for a tarred road that connects it with Ruacana.
In a nutshell government and its development partners pumped billons of dollars into major road infrastructural projects in the Karas, Hardap, Khomas, Omaheke, Otjozondjupa, Caprivi, Kavango, Ohangwena, Oshana, Omusati, Oshikoto, Kunene and Erongo regions and more projects are still in the pipeline.
Prior to independence the colonial-era planners did not have a clue that Namibia could become a net exporter of table grapes. But after independence, Namibia started planting grapes from scratch. For those not in the know, today during the international grape off-season, at Aussenkehr near Noordoewer in Namibia there is a thriving, multi-million-dollar grape industry. These seedless grapes are of such a superior quality that Europeans seem not to get enough of our supply.
It is not only in roads that our government has invested heavily, but there are fish-farms in almost every region and even green schemes whose establishment is two-fold: to boost food security and to create long-term employment. Our visionary government should be commended for having invested heavily in road infrastructure - a development that has created thousands of jobs on one hand, while ensuring all the country’s thirteen regions are inter-connected by this web of new tarred roads.
Very few African countries can boast of a functioning and state-of-the-art railway transcending the breadth and length of the country, connecting nearly all the borders with other countries and all the ports. A railway that is constantly busy with regular shipments of goods and people without major delays. Nevertheless, it is the massive spending on tarring the country’s road network that deserves a national standing ovation.
It is spending that puts a serious strain on the national budget, but which now allows for greater trade between the regions. It is now up to Namibians to take advantage of the infrastructure to boost production to levels where the country can efficiently trade with other countries in Southern Africa.
We acknowledge Namibia faces some developmental challenges such as HIV/AIDS, high unemployment, inequality and the land issue – challenges that are not only endemic to Namibia, but can be found also in the so-called First World which is grappling with monumental challenges of its own.
It is only the myopic that perpetually choose to be blind to these tangible facts.