By Frederick Philander
In his view the miracle of Namibia’s political transformation needs to be permanently translated and be blended into the social and economic transformation of the country.
This was last week said by the Mayor of Windhoek, Councillor Mathew Shikongo. He was addressing graduates of a youth development pilot project at the Community Development offices of the municipality in Katutura.
“Our country’s most far-reaching transformation is the rise of the small-business sector in an economy traditionally dominated by large enterprises and big business interests. One of the fundamental tasks of the city council is to address the legacy of neglect and suppression of the preciously disadvantaged sector,” the mayor said.
He referred to a number of obstacles preventing small, medium and micro development, such as low levels of education among the youth, barriers to markets, inaccessible finance and lack of support institutions.
“However, after seventeen years we can say with confidence that the foundations for developing the small business sector have been laid.
“Also, the political climate has been established in which business can thrive without hindrance.
“Even with insufficient finance and imbalances still to be overcome, many gains have been made, the number of small businesses are increasing and the sector is now contributing significantly to our national economic growth,” he said.
He warned that development can no longer be regarded as the responsibility of Government alone.
“Local government must be part and parcel of the small business strategy in every city, town and village. I also believe that cooperation between business and local government can result in a lasting relationship that can benefit both.
“Such a relationship will help to provide jobs and more opportunities, reduce crime and make communities self-reliant. In general, it will improve the lives of people where they live,” Shikongo said.
In his opinion, the young entrepreneurs represent the vast potential which was left unused or underdeveloped by the society.
“I wish to leave the entrepreneurs graduating today with a challenge to act with boldness. Turn the plans and the possibilities regarding trade and investment in productive ventures into action,” he told those who graduated.