WINDHOEK – Despite solid macroeconomic fundamentals, Namibia’s industrial performance has not yet been satisfactory. Having undergone only slow structural change, the country still faces great challenges such as limited production capacity, the primarily raw material export structure of its economy, a high unemployment rate, pockets of poverty that are quite deep, and severe income disparity, said the Minister of Trade and Industry, Calle Schlettwein, at a workshop on implementing Namibia’s industrial policy.
“Namibia is striving to become an industrialized economy by the year 2030. In order to achieve this target we must improve our delivery rates in terms of policy implementation rather significantly,” said Schlettwein, adding that to reach the goal of industrialization, Namibia’s industrial policy should be closely aligned with the Fourth National Development Plan (NDP4).
“While other sectors will not be neglected, attention will be shifted to priority sectors in order to ensure that the impact and results of our efforts collected in this regard are substantive. We have realized that spreading our efforts and resources to most sectors results in limited impact. Narrowing the focus on our drive towards accelerated economic growth through industrialization and manufacturing become essential”, noted Schlettwein.
Since the beginning of this year, just after the adoption and approval of Namibia’s first industrial policy by Cabinet and Parliament, respectively, the Ministry of Trade and Industry engaged with the private sector on the growth at home initiative, which aims to develop local and regional value chains on the basis of the raw material resources available in Namibia.
“I believe that our industrial policy should be about facilitating the identification and removal of constraints to growth in priority sectors driven by the private sector, but equally preparing government to initiate and incubate industrialization. It is thus essential that the private sector points out to policy makers the obstacles to growth in industrial production, and for us to ensure the alignment of government plans and actions to industry needs and also to ensure adequate resource allocation,” said Schlettwein.
He added that the importance of commodity-based industrialization and increased value addition to Namibia’s natural resources, and particularly manufacturing, to the country’s development and the growth of its economy, has been recognized through the designation of manufacturing as one of the four priority sectors in NDP4, as in the previous NDPs and the overarching long-term Vision 2030.
“We are aware that manufacturers in our country are facing various challenges that constrain their ability to produce and compete effectively at home and in export markets elsewhere. We are aware of the high cost of technology, energy, water, finance, transport and logistics, as well as shortage of skills, to mention a few. On the other hand, the industry sector is under constant pressure to cut costs, improve quality, meet environmental and international standards and penetrate markets with more competitive products,” said Schlettwein.
By Edgar Brandt