WINDHOEK – Africa’s inability to use its youth in transforming its economy is one of the major factors hampering growth and effectively fighting poverty on the continent.
This was the view of the Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa, Dr Carlos Lopes, expressed during a meeting with President Hage Geingob at State House yesterday. He is in the country to attend the two-day ministerial seminar aimed at assisting in identifying new ways to better deliver on the aspirations of Namibians.
“Africa has a high demographic dividend and youth numbers – in itself a possibility to use the youthfulness to transform its economy but it is not happening.
‘There is economic growth on the continent but not at the desired rate mainly because most youth are not employed,” said Lopes.
Lopes noted that the African manufacturing industry has grown smaller in terms of contribution to the economy instead of the other way round, adding: “This is a paradox given the growth and we need to address it.”
Although economic experts have in recent years argued that places in the world with abject poverty ‘are the same’ as those with little or no industrial activities, some have opposed the industrialization concept saying it is not good for poverty because all the machines and technology used in doing work are taking the jobs of people, who could have been doing the same work manually, said Lopes. Thus in a sense people are being denied work, according to the arguments of some.
But Lopes said African countries need a multi-faceted approach to fight poverty, singling out industrialization as one of the desired inputs. He urged the Namibian Government to take advantage of the international stage by working smarter.
Lopes praised Geingob’s predecessor, Hifikepunye Pohamba, for his exemplary work during his time in office.
“We are proud of Mr Pohamba’s legacy. The smooth transition of power, which we witnessed, places Namibia high when it comes to democratic rankings. It also shows that Namibia has the capacity to generate leaders,” said Lopes.
Vice-president Dr Nickey Iyambo, Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila and Deputy Prime Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah also attended yesterday’s meeting.