With less than fifteen years to Vision 2030, the question on everyone’s lips is whether Namibia will become an industrialised nation by the year 2030.
The country’s founding president, Dr Sam Nujoma, in his statement to Cabinet in January 1998 emphasised the need for a clear goal on the development of the country by 2030 so that it could become an industrialised nation.
He called on his Cabinet to deliberate on a vision that will take Namibia from the present into the future. “A vision that will guide us to make deliberate efforts to improve the quality of life of our people to the level of their counterparts in the developed world by the year 2030,” Nujoma suggested.
Such a vision, he reasoned, called for determined efforts by all concerned to concentrate on resolving, not just addressing, crucial national problems.
In practical terms, the call was for a comprehensive mission statement based on a critical review of past performance in all sectors of the economy. Furthermore, the vision would require built-in mechanisms for monitoring and evaluation of predetermined targets in all the sectors, including annual and five-yearly evaluations and a major review of performance every decade.
In response to the challenge of vision formulation, Cabinet directed the National Planning Commission (NPC) to coordinate the activities that would lead to the production of a shared national vision over the next thirty years.
Economist Klaus Schade noted that Vision 2030 is a comprehensive document covering a broad range of development objectives.
“We are on our way to achieving some of these objectives while we need to strengthen our efforts to achieve others,” Schade told New Era.
In the health sector, notable progress made includes the reduction of malaria and AIDS related deaths, he says. In addition, Namibia is ranked as an upper middle income country, says Schade.
“Manufacturing and service industries already contribute about 70 per cent to the gross domestic product (GDP) compared to 80 per cent envisaged by Vision 2030,” Schade pointed out.
Nevertheless, there are areas lagging behind. “Duality continues to characterise our economy and income inequality remains too high,” Schade says.
Also, gender-based violence and crime need to be addressed to achieve harmony in society, Schade notes. Furthermore, he points out that the education system has not yet achieved the objective of creating a well-educated and skilled population.
“We have fifteen years left and we can still make progress in a number of areas although the objective of becoming a high-income country is most likely too ambitious,” he says.
Schade further explains that to be classified as a high-income country, the per capita gross national income has to be above N$150 000 based on current categories. “But Namibia’s per capita for 2013 stood at N$46 000,” he says.
When asked if Namibia would attain Vision 2030, Taimi Nghatanga, a teacher at Havana Primary School commented: “With all these complications with land, I do not think so.” Her colleague Roman Kasino adds, “There is too much to be achieved and we are running out of time.”
Josef Amunyela, a teacher at the same school questions whether the country would indeed be a knowledge-based economy by the year 2030.
He justifies his question by adding that many schools, especially government schools, do not have computer labs.
“That means that most children don’t have access to information communication technologies and when you look at the university there are many students who struggle with using computers,” he says. Nghatanga adds that there are many unqualified teachers and this, she says, negatively impacts on the quality of education the learners receive.
Amunyela also says that schools being built nowadays do not have sports facilities. He believes that sports in itself is a potential avenue for job creation. “How can people be expected to excel in sports if it is not encouraged from an early age?” queries Amunyela. Meanwhile, Fillemon Nangonya, the spokesperson of the NPC notes that despite the many challenges, the country has fared well in its quest to achieve Vision 2030.
The health and education sectors include some of the sectors that have recorded progress over the years, Nangonya states.
“Given the achievements, we are also acutely aware of the challenges that are still ahead of us. Fortunately for us, we do have a credible plan and the necessary determination to address those challenges,” Nangonya says.
“Vision 2030 is a viable proposition,” he adds.
Amongst others, poverty has decreased over the years, from 69.3 per cent of the population within households in 1993/4 to 28.7 per cent in 2009/2010, Nangonya says.
“Whilst progress is in the right direction, inequality remains unacceptably high. The per capita income has increased from N$5 500 at independence to N$55 500 at the end of 2013,” he explains further.
In addition, those who spoke to New Era explained that attaining Vision 2030 should not be left to government. “It is necessary that we have close and regular consultations between government, the private sector, civil society and other stakeholders to build on the knowledge and experience,” says Schade.
But he feels that monitoring the progress that the country is making with the implementation of the fourth National Development Plan (NDP4) and other programmes and policies as well as achieving Vision 2030 should be a key function of the Ministry of Economic Planning.
Meanwhile, Havana resident Uulalia Katonyala is not convinced that the country will really be an industrialised nation by 2030.
She explains there are many people struggling to make ends meet. “We need help and only if people help one another can we really attain Vision 2030,” commented Katonyala who is a street vendor.
Another vendor, Selma Shipanga, says she does not really understand what Vision 2030 is all about.
“All I can say is people should refrain from committing criminal activities and killing one another and in that way we can achieve Vision 2030,” says Shipanga.
Furthermore, Kasino is not convinced the public really understands what Vision 2030 is all about. “Very few people really understand the vision,” Kasino maintains.
“Government should really come out and explain to people what we are really aiming to achieve. Maybe if people understand they will meet government half way. We as educators should incorporate it (Vision 2030) in our lessons,” he adds.