!Gawaxab on his first 100 days

18 September 2020 | Economics

PHILLEPUS UUSIKU - Even before the coronavirus crisis, Namibia’s economy was contracting, unemployment was high and fiscal space severely constrained if not exhausted, creating an almost perfect storm to face.

“Therefore, we need to up our game to ensure economic recovery,” said the governor of Bank of Namibia (BoN), Johannes !Gawaxab, yesterday as he reflected on his 100 days in office and vision going forward.

“I have taken the leadership role at the Bank of Namibia at a time when the world and Namibia have been hit by the deadly coronavirus with its devastating impact on the economy.

“It has been humbling to me, as I experience first-hand the resilience of the Namibian people who must face this situation daily while the pandemic dominates without a clear ending and who selflessly strive to save lives and the livelihoods of their compatriots,” !Gawaxab said.

The central bank governor started with a clear 100-day plan, which revolved around three key themes namely, introducing himself and aligning expectations with my key stakeholders, crafting a strategic agenda and thirdly communicating and starting the execution of the plan, he pointed out.

Achievements, vision

The notable accomplishments thus far have been preparatory and focused on ensuring longer term successes. It includes stakeholder engagements which is aim at building a bridge between the bank and its constituencies, collecting intelligence relating to activities of the monetary policy committee, the financial stability mandate and operations of the economy in general.

“In this regard, I have met with the top leadership of the NCCI [Namibian Chamber of Commerce and Industry], the top leadership of the Chamber of Mines, top leadership of labour as represented by NUNW [National Union of Namibian Workers], MDs of diamond mines and diamond sales, marketing and trading companies,” !Gawaxab said.

“In addition, we have published advisory notes on how to stimulate growth in the economy; collaborated with relevant ministries to craft a growth strategy for the country and assisted SMEs through a credit guarantee scheme to see them through the current crisis,” the central bank governor added.

!Gawaxab’s vision is to help create economic prosperity for Namibia by maintaining price and financial stability.

“Monetary and financial stability are necessary conditions, and we need to excel at it, but I must admit that these are not sufficient conditions for long-term prosperity.

“In our case, we need to contribute to creating an enabling macroeconomic and financial stability environment to help to grow the economy, create jobs and improve the livelihoods of the majority of our people,” he said.

Challenges, opportunities

“The management practices that central banks require for the future differ considerably from those they applied in the past. So, we need management practices that are relevant and innovative,” he pointed out.

“For instance, digital transactions, sound oversight over digital architectures, judgement calls on fintech risks, management of cybersecurity threats and regulation of new payment operators in an increasingly cashless world are some of the challenges,” !Gawaxab emphasised.

Opportunities are primarily in the area of making a contribution to improve the fortunes of the economy to create jobs and raise the living conditions of Namibians, he said. - [email protected]