SWAKOMUND – The director general of the National Planning Commission (NPC), Tom Alweendo says Namibia’s economic growth is too dependent on capital intensive and less labour intensive activities such as mining.
In such a scenario, he says, the growth Namibia has been recording is by and large a function of productivity and commodity prices.
According to Alweendo, this state of affairs is untenable and if not addressed with the necessary firmness it has the potential to undo all that the country has achieved so far in terms of developing the economy into a logistics hub.
Alweendo was speaking at the logistics and distribution workshop held in Swakopmund on Friday.
The aim of the workshop was to continue with the consultative approach adopted by all stakeholders since the inception of this project that is aimed at developing the country’s economy into an international logistics hub for the SADC region.
“You will all recall that one of the desired outcomes as stipulated in National Development Plan 4 is to transform the Namibian economy into a regional leader in logistics and distribution,” Alweendo said.
“The decision to go the logistics hub route was borne out of our desire to put our economy on a higher and sustainable growth trajectory. It is our considered view that given our geographical location, we are strategically positioned to serve as a trade route to and from the entire southern Africa region of the African continent.”
“This is a realistic expectation given the projected economic growth in most of the SADC economies in the medium to long term,” Alweendo explained.
He added that while Namibia’ economic growth has been growing steadily since independence, the current growth is not sufficient to fully address the country’s socio-economic development needs.
“For example, our current economic growth scenario is not creating enough employment opportunities to a large number of our young people who are joining the labour force on an annual basis,” he said.
“The structure of the economy is such that economic growth is largely from the sectors that are more capital intensive and less labor intensive, such as mining. The drafting of our fourth NDP was therefore informed by this realisation that there is a need for us to re-look our economic development strategies.”
There is a need for Namibia to promote the creation of other industries to diversify the economy, the NPC boss observed.
“Given the size of our population and therefore of our economy, we needed to create an opportunity where we can leverage on the economic growth in our neighbouring economies. We needed to think of an industry where people with relatively low level skills – the majority of the unemployed Namibians – can easily be employed. That is why we came up with the idea of a logistics and distribution hub.”