The Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, John Mutorwa, is concerned that Namibia remains a net importer of agricultural products, equipment, plants, machinery, pipes and other parts, saying such imports are very costly, but the country lacks industries that can manufacture such goods locally.
He says the imports used in production processes in turn makes the cost of the development and maintenance of water and sanitation services unsustainable. Industrialisation in Namibia, as in most countries, will come at the cost of developing proper water infrastructure, he said, as water is a central component of any development, given that all production processes require water.
Namibia, being one of the driest countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, is currently experiencing prolonged spells of drought and severe water shortages due to highly depleted dam levels. Mutorwa says there is a need for extensive water supply infrastructure to ensure water security in the country for the purposes of industrialisation.
Speaking yesterday during the two-day SADC Multi-stakeholder Water Dialogue – under the theme ‘Watering development in SADC: The central role of water in driving industrialisation’ – Mutorwa said the government’s Vision 2030 is that of a “prosperous and industrialised country,” to be attained within the next 15 years.
He said the dialogue comes at a time when Namibia is faced with severe water challenges, given the ongoing drought and water scarcity the country is currently experiencing, which could slow down the pace of industrialisation.
Since Namibia’s perennial rivers are shared with neighbouring countries, transboundary cooperation and water management alongside other riparian states is a “must and not an option”, he said.
“As a developing country, we believe that the expansion of factories for industrial development and manufacturing, mining production, urbanisation and population growth will lead to high sustained economic growth and development, which in turn will lead to increased demand on our scarce water resources,” he noted.
Namibia, like most water scarce countries in Africa, wants to cooperate with other countries with which it shares strategic water sources to maximise the benefits derived from these shared resources.
“It also follows that a nation which is not water secure and without proper sanitation facilities will not be able to achieve the desired and high sustained levels of economic growth and development,” Mutorwa said.
The overall objective of the SADC dialogue is to bring together water service providers, non-governmental organisations, water resources managers, cooperating and development partners and other stakeholders to analyse industrial development trends and how they impact on water resources management.
The dialogue also aims to devise strategies and a clear way forward to ensure that water resources in SADC are developed, managed and used in a sustainable way to support the industrialisation agenda.
The minister said the government has developed an Integrated Water Resources Management Plan, supported by a clear legal framework and is now in the process of developing a Strategic Water Security Plan for the country.
“As a country we have to strategise and ensure that water does not become a major constraint in pursuing our developmental agenda of becoming an industrialised nation by the year 2030,” he indicated.
Furthermore, a road map and strategy for the SADC region have since been developed and launched in June 2015, following a directive from the Heads of States and Governments during their summit in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, in 2014 to pursue rapid industrialisation as a way to promote socio-economic growth and value addition within the southern African region.