The importance of development planning is not always obvious to everyone, let alone its definition. However, development planning is nothing other than a process of making an arrangement how to achieve certain objectives in a systematic manner.
When you have a plan – and if it is a good plan – your objectives and goals are much clearer for all to see and appreciate. This is especially important for those that are required to implement the plan. It provides them with a clear direction to direct their efforts towards the same objectives. Planning also reduces the risks of uncertainty. We are now living in a world that is more uncertain than before; a world where the environment in which we operate keeps changing around us. Having a good plan will therefore be helpful in anticipating future risks.
During the past 27 years, Namibia has enjoyed a steady improvement in its development agenda. Without any doubt, today Namibia is certainly a better place to live in than it was before. And there are many milestones one can refer to in this respect – both in the economic and social areas.
By lauding our achievements so far, I am not in any way suggesting that we no longer have challenges that need to be addressed. It is not to say that we no longer have areas of our development where more still needs to be done.
It is indeed still the case that our economy needs to grow at a higher level and be more inclusive; that we need to create more employment opportunities; and that income generated from our economy needs to be shared on a more equitable basis among members of our society.
I am, however, mentioning our past achievements to remind ourselves that we are capable of achieving great things.
NDP5, is a development tool to achieve our development goals under Vision 2030, which is influenced by not only local considerations such HPP and the Swapo Party Manifesto, but also by external ones such as those contained in the African Union Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals.
Just like with NDP4, NDP5 is characterised by two important principles – that of plan ownership and prioritisation.
With regard to plan ownership, one of the most important lessons we learned during the implementation of NDP4 is that a plan is an effective development tool only when it has a broad ownership from the various stakeholders.
We also learned that plan implementation will be more effective only when the potential beneficiaries, especially those that might be required to implement the plan, have helped to shape such a plan.
From the start of the process we made sure that as many stakeholders as possible were consulted. The first thing we did early last year was to obtain our marching orders from Cabinet under the leadership of His Excellency President Hage Geingob. Specifically President Geingob emphasised the need to be more inclusive in our consultation process – as you know he has always told us that inclusivity spells harmony whereas exclusivity spells conflict.
It is for this reason that we undertook an extensive consultation process that took us to all the fourteen Regions with the view to afford the citizens an opportunity to provide their input. We also made it possible for the private sector and the non-state actors to give their input.
When it comes to prioritisation, it is the case that there is so much that we want or need to do to advance our development goals. But it is also true that not all the things we can do will have the same impact on the goals that we need to achieve.
Some of the activities have greater impact on the goals, and those are the ones we should rather give more attention to.
We will also not have enough time and resources to do everything at once, and hence prioritisation helps us to focus our attention on the more important things and spare us from the tyranny of the urgent.
Throughout the process it was our desire that at the end of the process we will have a plan that is relevant, realistic, practical, and most of all a plan, which we all can identify with, support and work towards making it a reality.
We are therefore happy that the process has been completed successfully and that His Excellency the President is now launching our plan this morning.
When all is said and done it all starts and ends with all of us as Namibians. Let us therefore, as individuals and as a collective, recognise the great potential that is within all of us to make a difference. Let us go and make NDP5 the great success it can be, and give practical meaning to President Hage Geingob’s vision of a Namibian House where we all feel at home.
Tom Alweendo is minister of in charge of economic planning. He made these remarks at the recent launch of NDP5 in Windhoek.