President Hage Geingob yesterday highlighted some of the achievements made under his Harambee Prosperity Plan (HPP), which is aimed at ushering in an era of economic prosperity for all Namibians.
This was clearly laid out in the 2016 targets of the HPP in terms of five pillars, which Geingob in a close to three-hour press briefing described as a successful year of implementation.
Geingob noted that the past year saw Namibia retaining its rating as the most free press in Africa and also moved up one place to fifth position in Africa on the Mo Ibrahim Governance Index.
“This year all ministers declared their assets and income and have done so on time. One minister even publicly shared his declaration and I commend him for taking that initiative. The practice of asset and income declaration has been emulated by members of parliament and civil servants,” the president observed.
Geingob added that another target, developing the National Anti-Corruption Strategy, was successfully implemented in the year under review and in the spirit of transparency it is accessible to the public on the website of the Office of the Prime Minister.
“Significant progress with the rolling out of e-governance to all OMAs (offices, ministries and agencies) has been made.
“In this connection some of the e-services, it is worth mentioning, are expected to go live before the end of March 2017.
“All ministers, deputy ministers and permanent secretaries have signed performance agreements. Moreover, in the spirit of transparency, all ministerial performance agreements have been released on the website of the Office of the Prime Minister, as well as on individual websites of ministries.”
“We’re also pleased to report that most ministries have developed citizen service charters as their delivery promise to the public.”
On the question of economic advancement, President Geingob’s pre-occupation has been the safeguarding of the country’s macro-economic stability.
“We’ve maintained our import coverage of at least three months of imports, with the latest reserve level standing at N$25 billion… This has allowed scope for our central bank to keep the lead lending rate at 7 percent to promote economic growth going forward,” he said and stressed the fact that Namibia maintained its international credit rating of BBB, according to Fitch Ratings Agency.
Unfortunately, Namibia overshot its debt-to-GDP target as the aim was to stabilise borrowing at 37% of GDP, but the debt-to-GDP ratio is likely to come in at 42 percent, he remarked.
“To demonstrate that we mean business when it comes to the preservation of macro-economic stability and fiscal sustainability, we’ve introduced severe budget cuts, which in relative terms have been the biggest since independence.
“In this year we gave practical meaning to the term economic diplomacy. A number of high-level investment promotion missions, as well as our locally hosted Invest in Namibia International Conference were oversubscribed,” he noted.
Geingob indicated that a good number of memoranda of understanding and letters of intent have also been signed.
“We’re also pleased to report that the Retail Charter has been finalised and signed into force on schedule and that the economic empowerment initiative, namely NEEEF is close to being finalised,” he added.
Some of the achievements on the social progression pillar include the provision of drought relief assistance to more than half a million drought-affected Namibians.
This, he said, demonstrates the commitment of government to zero deaths as a result of hunger.
Other targets reached include the successful introduction of the foodbank in the Khomas Region and the increase in the old age pension by an additional N$100 to N$1 100, as well as the mobilising of 100 tractors to provide subsidised ploughing services to communal farmers during the current rainy season.
“With regard to land servicing and delivery, a total of 3 864 out of a targeted 5 000 erven under Year One of Harambee have been delivered,” he said, adding that “an amount of N$367.9 million has been allocated in subsidy to qualifying local authorities to expedite urban land servicing, of which N$151.8 million has been utilised.”
He further said that “1 681 houses have been completed to date, against the annual target of 6 000, while 1 500 houses are under construction.”
An amount of N$30 million has been set aside for the construction of toilet facilities in the Hardap and //Karas regions and tenders for the construction of 780 toilets for the two regions will soon be awarded.
On strengthening vocational skills development, a fully costed Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Expansion Strategy has been developed, it was noted.
To date, 24 937 trainees are enrolled for TVET programmes countrywide at both public and private training institutions. This number includes 16 463 trainees funded directly by the Namibia Training Authority (NTA).
On the energy question President Geingob noted that the year 2016 saw no incidents of load shedding, despite incidents of temporary power failures.
“On increased local generation capacity, good progress has been made with the development of the National Integrated Resource Plan (NIRP),” he said. “Tenders for the construction of a 200 megawatt renewable energy plant have been issued and are being evaluated.
“The electrification of rural schools has also commenced, with 66 schools electrified this year to date,” he said, and regarding the ongoing water shortages, noted that a Cabinet committee on water supply and security was set up to deal with the issue.
“Regarding transport infrastructure, we’re pleased to report that some key projects are on track,” he said.
These include the deepening and expansion of the Port of Walvis Bay; the expansion of key roads, such as the Windhoek-Okahandja dual carriageway; the Windhoek-Hosea Kutako International Airport road; and the upgrading of the Swakopmund-Walvis Bay road to a dual carriageway.