African leaders need radical paradigm shift to industrialisation

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I don’t understand our African leaders who are in charge of our countries’ administration. Why don’t they venture into manufacturing and the whole industrialisation process? Why can’t they build warehouses, install machinery and take people from each region, province or county to be trained through bilateral agreements with developed countries and start manufacturing items with quality and quantity as per African standard and population buying power?

I am sure some developed countries will provide mentorship services to the good cause. Like in Namibia we have the empty Ramatex warehouses in Windhoek that are getting dilapidated as they stand as white elephants. We can turn this facility into incubation centres and allow all vocational training centre trainees to come manufacture their products using those machines and sell products locally or even export them.

By doing this, our countries will be independent, increase job opportunities and our state revenues will increase – thereby allowing us to service our MIF/World Bank debts and start saving some money for eventualities. Yes, a little bit of export opportunities will be there through interregional trade agreements that already exist. How do you run a country over 28 years or more but your manufacturing sector is represented by less than 10 products while the rest come from imports?

No value addition policy has yielded any fruits, as our own raw materials haven’t been turned into products locally that we can use or consume ourselves. Even tomato paste for our own fish, and its tin, are imported. We can’t manufacture a tin that we urgently need for packaging of our own fish, but we extract iron from our own mines. With iron mines, we should be manufacturing tins or corrugated-iron sheets.

We have been talking about a toothpick manufacturing plant for the past 27 years here in Namibia but no one has been empowered and got training how to produce toothpicks. We are building houses, but corrugated-irons come from elsewhere, instead of buying machinery and attach them to the houses and they produce as per demand then there will be no stock on the shelves to be translated into loss – those sheets will come from our own iron that we are mining.

What we know is to celebrate these national days, this and that, with millions of dollars burned into fuel costs, attending state funerals, why must your burial cost be covered by poor citizens? Where are our priorities, Africans? We are building mansions while citizens don’t have access to potable water, sanitation, no roads to access the market for them to sell their goods to make ends meet.

One can drive two hours for only 50 km, that’s how bad our roads are and in the process you are burning fuel costs again and you become poorer. I can’t comprehend what we are doing year in and out. We are sending permanent secretaries to Singapore to benchmark and come implement what they have learned but due to rigid policies, poor priorities they have set for themselves, upon their return they even forget they’ve been to Singapore, some only remember the tall buildings but forget the reasons why they were on outreach programmes to Asia.

We are so fascinated by urban settlements but we forget our villages where we come from. While we are given the mandate to administer with the whole fiscus coffer, you can’t develop your rural area where you are coming from. Urbanisation challenges we are experiencing today are a sign that we have forgotten where we are coming from and our sister, brother, uncle, children, mum and dad, they are following us to come and experience those nice things that are stopping us from coming back home on a regular basis.

To come and see how powerful their siblings are but are unable to bring those needy services to where they were born. If each and every region can have a manufacturing plant that Namibia can produce 14 products or more, then each region at least will have up to 200 or more people employed in those factories and people will forget about urbanisation and we will not have people that will escape to Europe for greener pastures – by then the greener pastures are right there at the doorsteps. No slaves in Liberia, no mortality cases in the Red Sea and Mediterranean Sea. Let’s rise.

* Vetaruhe Kandorozu is Nudo deputy secretary-general and regional councillor for Okakarara Constituency.

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