Windhoek-International University of Management (IUM) founder Dr David Namwandi has described the level of unemployment in the country as a time bomb, saying Africa and Namibia in particular were endowed with enormous resources, enough to feed its inhabitants and export the surplus to strengthen the local economy.
In recently published statistics, the Namibian Statistics Agency (NSA) report that the unemployment figure in Namibia currently stands at over 36 percent, with most of the jobless found among young people.
“We must kill this idea that unemployment in Africa is not news,” he noted. In order to overcome the problem, he suggested it is imperative that Namibians develop “a First World mentality”.
“Meaning we need to let go of some baggage, especially laxity and dependence. We ought to borrow a leaf from Singapore, a one-time small island that climbed from a per capita GDP US$400 when late Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew took office in 1959 to more than US$12,000 in 1990 and then to US$22,000,” Namwandi said.
In an attempt by IUM to implement a strategic vision to produce graduates that are job creators rather than job seekers, the university this week launched its Entrepreneurship Educator Programme to realise this ambition.
Namwandi, who officially launched the programme on Monday, said the goal of the programme is to help faculty members become entrepreneurship educators, as they will be expected to impart the entrepreneurship module as part of their curriculum.
He noted that Namibia faces many societal problems, with the most critical ones being poverty and unemployment. Hence, he said, there is a need for all individuals and organisations to make a contribution towards solving these problems.
This, he added, would be with the aim of stimulating the thinking of students to identify entrepreneurship opportunities in their respective fields of study. Furthermore, faculty members will be able to direct and assist students in campus activities, such as idea competitions and workshops.
Through the partnership with Mount Kenya University and in collaboration with the renowned Wadhwani Foundation, IUM’s academic staff will be trained through the National Entrepreneurship Network (NEN) programme.
According to Namwandi, it is meaningless to train for the sake of training. Therefore, he said, IUM embarked on a strategy of instilling entrepreneurial skills in its students.
“With our partners we vow to make IUM – as per its vision and mission – a production factory of work and wealth creators. It is of utmost importance that we in academia, together with our colleagues in industry and all relevant stakeholders, collaborate to find sustainable ways to address these challenges.”
He said creating a culture of entrepreneurship not only alleviates poverty and unemployment, but also positively affects the general business environment.
Additionally, he maintained that an increase in business activity would keep government on course to synchronise and improve various stages of opening and operating a business, such as registration, tax-related matters and access to finance.
More business activity, he says would improve the overall ease of doing business, while increased entrepreneurial activity and innovation would affect commercial activity and therefore the health of the economy.
Moreover, he said a focus on innovation would also enable the generation and registration of various forms of intellectual property, which will benefit entrepreneurs and businesses alike.
“At IUM we aim to create unique frameworks, where our students should be actively involved in entrepreneurship and innovation programmes and activities from day one up to their final day at our university,” he explained.
He said this week IUM will have a workshop aimed at putting into action the ambition of the university to become an entrepreneurship and innovation-driven institution, in which entrepreneurship is taught across the curriculum and from year one to year four.
He further said the final project for students in entrepreneurship courses would not be the typical research paper destined for the library shelves, but a business proposal, that will potentially attract funding from banks and other funding agencies.
In this regard, he said, IUM will count from year to year how many companies were created by their graduates and take this as a way of monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of the entrepreneurship and innovation programmes so as to make the necessary adjustments, where needed.