By Mbatjiua Ngavirue OTJIWARONGO The private sector has a national duty to create employment for the army of jobless Namibians, says president of the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inge Zaamwani. Speaking at a gala dinner to mark the second national council meeting of the NCCI at Otjiwarongo on Friday, she said the country’s unemployment rate at 35% of total employable Namibians is disturbingly high. “I believe that for a population of about two million people, this situation can be turned around faster through innovative business ideas from the private sector,” Zaamwani declared. She called on the NCCI to serve as a platform for facilitating the generation of business ideas through professional business advisory services. To achieve this, the NCCI needs to work in close partnership with government, labour and other stakeholders to creatively address the unemployment situation in Namibia. The government, she said, is however expected to play its part in order for the private sector to accomplish its duty of generating wealth and creating employment. The government could do this by ensuring the economic conditions and the business environment within which private enterprises operate remain conducive to profitable business undertakings. Zaamwani urged NCCI members to pursue the chamber’s objective of making Namibia an export-led and outward looking economy able to compete with the rest of the world. “We are fortunate to have attractive markets in our neighbourhood such as Angola, DRC, Zambia and the rest of SADC. We must pursue opportunities in these markets,” she encouraged members. She further called on Namibian businesspeople to recognise the growing importance of China. “It is our considered view that we as a country must work towards building a special relationship with China in which we realise mutual benefits,” she argued. She went on to say it is very important for Namibian businesspeople to explore opportunities for Namibian products in the lucrative Chinese market. They also needed to identify opportunities for sourcing technology from China through joint venture partnerships with their Chinese counterparts. The NCCI national council meeting was held in Otjiwarongo for the first time ever, to coincide with the town’s centenary celebrations. To mark the occasion, the NCCI also signed a memorandum of understanding with the Otjiwarongo Municipality, aimed at fostering friendship and cooperation between the two bodies. They will cooperate in the areas of business development and promoting investment opportunities in and around Otjiwarongo. To kick-start the process, the NNCI organised a workshop on customer care and business negotiations skills for existing and upcoming businesses in the Otjiwarongo area. Reviewing the year that is about to end, Zaamwani said the NCCI had improved its communication with stakeholders, particularly the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI). The chamber will have quarterly meetings with MTI to deal with key issues that affect the operations of its members. Another success achieved by the NCCI was the abolition of visa requirements between Namibia and its two neighbours Angola and South Africa, which previously made doing business difficult and expensive. Zaamwani said during the year, NCCI dedicated a lot of energy towards improving the financial situation of the chamber, which had been a “headache” for the past few years. Donor assistance the organisation depended on to finance some of its activities had diminished over the years, and income from membership subscriptions was not sufficient to fund the chamber’s operations. She announced that efforts to improve the financial position had borne fruit and the finances of the chamber were now healthy as the year’s financial statements would show.