CONFIDENTIAL NOTES

A NOTICEABLE development Namibians have become accustomed to is a penchant for theorising, negative criticisms and inaction to the extent that we sometimes become loud spectators of a game we are supposed to be playing, hoping that events will unfold by themselves for the betterment of our livelihoods.

The cold reality is that the destiny of our country’s future is in our hands.

With this reality in view, I salute all those who have displayed a high level of endurance and psychological stamina to stomach the live geckos of economic downturn that befell the global economy. These are institutions as presented in our Achiever’s Guide supplement this month that held their fort during the global economic meltdown. They are those who prepared themselves for the windfalls of the South African 2010 World Cup that never was, but still carried on.

Their determination should now be directed towards the drive for economic empowerment and development.

We owe it to future generations to be bold, decisive and take aggressive action in developing our economy now.

Africa was tipped to weather the economic storm because of the great expectations from the World Cup.

Namibia being endowed with factor conditions such as an abundance of natural resources waiting for extraction, beneficiation and trade, as well as a being tourism juggernaut was expected to benefit more in 2010.

As 2010 fades and as we recover from the global economic meltdown, it does not seem to matter now which company (indigenous-dominated or otherwise) is doing business with who in Namibia.

Perhaps 2010 should be considered as a hiatus to Vision 2030 when history is recorded in future.

What matters now is organisation, accountability, zero tolerance for corruption, high productivity, transparency and a laser-like focus on beneficiation and trade.

The government should promulgate policies that encourage foreign direct investment without crowding out empowerment of locals. That balance is necessary and achievable. For example, mega projects such as investment in construction of power plants and large scale mining projects can be exempt from the 51% indigenous ownership requirement as long as there is a net benefit to Namibia.

The main reasons for the need to exempt the 51% requirement are that we may not have the wherewithal, technology and expertise to implement such projects. There is no quicker way for the country to access that capital at a massive scale, technologically and expertly than through foreign direct investment. In addition, such mega projects usually create large-scale employment and improvements in road and rail infrastructure among other benefits.

These are benefits that any inward-looking government may never realise even in its wildest dreams.

The Trade and Industry Ministry under Dr. Hage Geingob touches on a lot of these issues in our Achiever’s Guide, a special edition of institutions and organisations celebrating the year’s success.

The above views are not exhaustive but are only a modest attempt to highlight the urgent need for more aggressive action on the economic development front, now that we have escaped 2010 by a whisker.

Tourism, the biggest subject of 2010, mainly because of the FIFA World Cup, is on the cover of the final edition of Prime Focus this year. It has proved to be one of the main social and economic phenomena of our times and the only service where there is a positive balance of trade flowing from the developed world to Third World countries.

Yet many African countries have weak, embryonic tourism sectors, while other countries have vigorous, more developed tourism sectors. In the latter countries, much of the investment, management and development in tourism are from private sector initiatives. But few African countries have given careful consideration to the type of tourism they want, and to what extent their declared aims are realistic, and what needs to be done to achieve those aims.

Against this brief background, Tourism Minister Netumbo Nandi Ndaitwah this month gives an overriding approach to tourism development in a post-mortem of 2010 tourism.

For the first time in its existence, the Prime Focus front cover has two personalities. The issues discussed by the two ministers shows that 2010 is a year which we will not look back not with undiluted pleasure. To borrow from the Queen, the year as the stories in this edition reveals, turned out to be an Annus mirabilis, a year of wonders. PF