By Surihe Gaomas ONDANGWA Vision 2030 can never be realised through the drinking and selling of alcohol. This was said by President Hifikepunye Pohamba at Ondangwa on Saturday. The president urged shebeeners in the country to diversify their businesses into other socio-economic activities. “I’m not against drinking, but let’s do some other things through diversification because you cannot get to Vision 2030 by just selling beer and drinking beer,” he remarked. He made these remarks when he officially opened the Northern Railway Extension Line and Railway Station in Ondangwa on Saturday. Recently, shebeen owners staged public demonstrations to protest against the implementation of the Liquor Act. Government has over the years been committed to supporting the Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) sector. Against this background, the President called on shebeen owners to rather look at other developmental initiatives that would enable the country to achieve Vision 2030. “We, therefore encourage upcoming entrepreneurs to diversify their operations from shebeen activities to other viable ventures,” said Pohamba when he addressed the crowd. “I particularly believe that opportunities should be identified to maximize the utilization of natural resources that all regions in our country are endowed with.” Shebeen owners camped outside parliament in Windhoek for weeks recently, calling on Government to amend the Liquor Act of 1998. In response, the President said he had a duty to defend the country’s laws and constitution and Government but added that he would attend to their concerns. “The Government has listened to the concerns of the people in this regard. We have studied the situation and are in the process of formulating appropriate remedies,” he said. In view of this, Government through the Ministry of Trade and Industry is ready to create opportunities for interested locals to access employment opportunities through the Green Scheme, aquaculture and other programmes meant specifically for SME entrepreneurship development. Some of the initiatives developed to assist the SME sector include assistance in drafting of business plans, sourcing and vendor development, industrial parks and SME modules, the Small Business Credit Guarantee Scheme and the SME Fund introduced by the Development Bank of Namibia. The Head of State also encouraged upcoming local business people to approach the relevant offices to find out how they can be assisted through such initiatives. At the same time, public officials were also urged to help in making “enlightened choices”. Now the onus is upon all Namibians to take the challenge of socio-economic development head on by coming up with viable business projects that would contribute positively to the development of the country in line with Vision 2030.
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