The principal drivers of Namibia and Africa’s industrialisation efforts must be the private sector as governments are merely the enablers, says Dr Malan Lindeque, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development (MITSD).
Lindeque made the remark yesterday at a very well attended first-ever public seminar in Windhoek on the Southern African Development Community’s (SADC) industrialisation strategy and roadmap, which was launched in Zimbabwe in April.
The objectives of the seminar include sensitising the public on the key elements of the strategy as well as to provide an avenue for a high level discussion on opportunities for Namibia emanating from the strategy. Lindeque, who acted as facilitator, added that an overview of the seminar would go to Cabinet for further discussion.
In a speech delivered on his behalf, the Minister of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development, Immanuel Ngatjizeko, noted that the strategy and roadmap is a blueprint for regional efforts towards attainment of structural transformation.
“The strategy and roadmap are essentially underpinned by the adoption of national industrial policies as well as the implementation of the Industrial Upgrading and Modernisation Programme (IUMP) across all member states,” said Ngatjizeko.
“This programme, together with the other interventions in place to stimulate SME growth, innovation and technological upgrading are the very foundation of our industrialisation activities. Often we say there’s no time to lose – well there really isn’t much time in this case for us as SADC member states,” added Ngatjizeko.
The SADC industrialisation policy, which was adopted by SADC heads of state, is premised on three pillars. These are the enhancement of competitiveness at company, industry and regional level; industrialisation as a champion of economic and technological transformation; and regional integration as the context for industrial development.
Commenting on the key elements of the strategy, the newly appointed deputy permanent secretary in the trade ministry, Dr Michael Humavindu, noted that some of the challenges in achieving industrialisation include energy, infrastructure, skills deficit, financing, the diversification of sectors, mediocre products, access to international markets and value chain addition to existing sectors.
Humavindo said the three priority growth paths for industrialisation have been identified as agro-processing, mineral beneficiation (including downstream processing) and the promotion of cross-border value chains. Humavindu added that Namibia is actively exploring cross-border value chains and industrial cooperation with South Africa, Zambia and Angola.
“This is extremely critical and telling as it demonstrates that we as a nation see the importance of this and are not just ‘talking the talk’, but actually ‘walking the walk’. By financing and investing in this industrialisation effort at every level, Namibia is truly looking to the future,” said Ngatjizeko.