Jobs, jobs, jobs

12 September 2018 | Opinion

As Namibia digests the N$10 billion funding facility offer put on the table by China, which will be paid over a five-year period, according to finance minister Calle Schlettwein, hope arises of a clear-cut economic rejuvenation plan.

The country has been shedding jobs like a hairy dog on a couch, and the pain and suffering of ordinary Namibian families has become more and more tangible.

Now that we have crept further into bed with the Chinese, and we have to accept that government will be taking them up on their funding offer, an economic recovery blueprint has become paramount.

The pervasive fear is that large infrastructure projects will simply benefit our so-called benefactors, the Chinese and their state companies, as well as the usual tenderpreneur suspects, who are currently aligned with the powers that be.

A reform package to spur growth must identify key sectors that government needs to stimulate.

Namibia will remain with a begging bowl in its hands, if it continues to pay lip service to industrialisation.

Value addition cannot simply remain a talk shop; we are being forced to borrow, because we are still shipping our resources overseas without secondary and tertiary industrial processing. We will never be able to compete or even negotiate on an equal footing, if we remain a basic provider of materials that other nations turn into products, which are then shipped back to us.

About 60 000 jobs were lost across the economy during the 2016/17 financial year, according to a report submitted to parliament by the Employment Equity Commission in March.

Unemployment continues to skyrocket, while we scrounge around for loans. Namibia’s days as a supplier of raw commodities must become numbered.

The talk of economic recovery must be backed up with consultations around job creation and retention. The youth must be empowered with the Chinese billions on the table.

This critical and challenging phase in our democracy needs to be underpinned by economic recovery and not just billion-dollar projects that enrich the few.

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