We Need to Be Fast and Smart

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Our world in 2005 was dominated by four major issues – Asia’s rebirth as a super economic power, terrorism, HIV/AIDS and spiritual poverty. The future of nations depends on how nations handle these issues. Global Economic Growth In 2005, GDP of the world (gross domestic product) rose up to US$40,000 billion and the projected global economic growth for 2006 is 4.1%. The GDP of some key global players are as follows: USA=> US$13,180 billion Japan=> US$4.906 billion Germany=> US$3,600 billion China=> US$2,240 billion India=> US$857 billion The GDP growth is a reasonable indicator to understand the human development status of the nations. A sustainable economic growth can rescue a nation form the poverty and bring prosperity and harmony. By creating 9.5% GDP during the past 20 years China has rescued 40% of their population from poverty and established a global competitiveness. Namibia’s Competitiveness In 2005 Namibia’s GDP was US$1.4 billion and the average annual growth is less than 4% of the GDP. The fall of diamond production, slow progress in the fishing industry, adverse effects of the rising fuel cost and the non-diversified economic structure have stagnated the growth of the economy. Moreover, the impact of AIDS on development remains a volcano. As Mihe Gaomab, reputed Namibian economist cited, “The economic figures, however, fall short of what is to be achieved for vision 2030.” As China and India remind us, to become “an industrial nation with a sustainable economic growth’, it is vital to maintain at least 6-7% GDP growth from 2006-2010, 7-8% 2011-2014 and 8% 2015-2030. China has maintained 9.5% GDP growth for 20 years and India’s current five-year plan (2002-2006) aims at an annual average GDP rate of 8%, which is the minimum growth-speed to reverse poverty and to establish an export-led, high-tech-competitive economy. This is the dream of Namibia, too. Education Reforms Recently, introducing a new curriculum for Grade 10, 11 and 12, Ms Naledi Pandor, Minister of Education, South Africa, said: “The proposed compulsory requirement of mathematical literacy aims to prepare learners for life and work in an increasingly technological, numerical and data-driven world.” Our Grade 10 students, who are the future knowledge workers, recently marked a very low performance. Namibia urgently needs engineers, medical professionals, IT specialists, chemists and high-tech blue-collar workers to grow the GDP. Moreover, due to the absence of a strong learning culture our youths love fun rather than books. Hence, in addition to reengineering of the education system, it is urgent to launch a national campaign to promote a passion for knowledge. In 1950, Japan was smashed by two atomic bombs and, within three decades, has surpassed the microelecronics and automobile industry of the United States and become the second wealthiest nation in the world (per capita GDP is US$38,890). India’s 30% of its 1.1 billion population is illiterate and the majority of villages don’t have electricity. Anyhow, India has emerged as the Computer Software Hub and the best Business Processing Outsourcing (BPO) destination of the world. Sound macro-economic planning, a high-tech innovative work-force, and investor friendly policies attracted more foreign direct investment (FDI) to India. The Chinese government used their annual government’s budget as a jumping pad to prosperity. Innovativeness To me, the decisive factors of economic development are not the capital or natural resource. It is innovative human beings. People who fuel the growth are known as Knowledge Workers. They create highly marketable and services that attract global customers. Earlier, Japan, China and India used their own human resources and government budgets to initiate economic growth. They swiftly trained youth for the high-tech manufacturing and service sector. Recently, President Hu Jintao tabled Vision 2010, which is designed to lift China as a “nation of innovative creators’, with the high-tech competitiveness, environmental care and social morality. Harnessing Knowledge Information technology, microelectronics, automated manufacturing technology, industrial chemistry and life sciences have improved our production capacities tremendously. In the past, industrially developed western nations were very reluctant to transfer their science, technology or capital to developing nations. However, some developing nations using their own languages and national universities produced their own breed of science and technology. Their knowledge-workers who learned and served in western countries tirelessly began to transfer advanced knowledge to motherlands. This modern and hybrid knowledge is the foundation of the Asian miracle. Research & Development The NDP-3 should allocate sufficient funds for R&D for the universities and other research institutions. The corporate sector deserves incentives, tax concessions for their R&D programs. These researchers will offer innovative solutions and develop our products and reduce production costs. This will help us to compete with highly industrial countries. For instance, our scientists can conduct a joint research with NASA to explore the chemical properties of our Hoodia plant, which is used by the Bushmen of Namibia as an appetite suppressant. It possesses thirst/hunger suppression qualities. The Hoodia can be useful for future space travellers, astronauts, mountaineers and soldiers. Next Generation Technology Japan, the number two economic superpower of the world, in recently outlining its future high-tech vision 2010 plan, noted its future hope to become the global leader in next generation technology such robotics, nanotechnology, bio-engineering, solar-power and fuel-efficient hybrid automobiles. Nations which breed knowledge workers have dominated the global market within a short period. China is now the biggest computer-product exporter to America overtaking Japan. In 2004, China exported computers, mobile phones and other digital gadgets worth of US$180 billion, exceeding America’s global exports that valued US$149 billion. Start the Engine Rather than rely more on donor contributions or foreign investment to start the Namibian Economic Engine, as Japan, China and India did, it is wiser to use the national resources such as NDP 3, which inherits around N$70 billion. The NDP-3 (2006-2010) should be turned into an Emergency Development Plan (EDP) employing sound economic planning, high-tech workforce, and ethical governance. In addition, it is very essential to manage the destructive behavior of greedy elements that misuse national resources for self-enrichment. However, I am very positive about the top political leadership of the country who are matured enough to deal with these anti-development elements. The nations that learn faster and smartly will bring property and harmony to them, as well as to a global citizenry. Hence, a long-term economic growth ensures global socio-political stability. Prof Monish Gunawardana International University of Management – Namibia

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