Editor’s Note

Exciting times are beckoning our continent, once dubbed the ‘dark continent’ by naysayers, the doom and gloom scales are surely falling off. True to the old Chinese proverb, ‘May you live in exciting times’.

I am enthused by a presentation by Minister Ebrahim Ismail at a meeting of private investors for Africa recently hosted in Johannesburg by Standard Bank on Investing in Africa: Opportunities and Prospects. Many thanks to David Nuuyoma, the CEO Development Bank of Namibia (DBN) for sharing this presentation with me.

I found the following points quite engaging from the presentation, if not a revitalising hope for unlimited opportunities:

━ The positive development in governance envisaged to create political stability towards democracy. A number of elections held are proof to that. Investor confidence rides on the back of political stability.
━ The continent has an abundance of unexplored mineral resources including 10% of the world’s oil, reserves, 40% of the gold ore and 95% of the platinum group metals. Added to that, Africa contains 60% of the world’s available and unexploited cropland.
━ Demographical by 2050, Africa will be one in five and will have the world’s largest work force of 1.2 billion. In other words, Africa will enjoy a ‘demographic dividend’ of young energetic and increasingly educated workers to power the continent’s services.
━ Rapid urbanisation; as people move to towns and cities, we see an increase in consumer demand. Standard Bank estimates that African households with discretionary income, will grow to 100 million by 2015, thus making Africa one of the fastest growing consumer markets of this decade.
━ The plans to developing infrastructure to facilitate trade such as roads, rails, power and port facilities. It is said Africa spends US$72b a year on infrastructure; an encouraging sign of things looking up on our mother land.
━ Technology penetration is gaining a foot hold; for example, the number or mobile phone users has multiplied 33 times to 316 million users since 2000. For every 10 new mobile phones per 100 people a country, as the GDP is likely to increase by 0.8 percentage points.
━ The diversification of the African economy provides fertile ground to economic development.

This is indeed good news and the challenge is to engage and map out strategies on how to get the hanging fruits, through consortiums, partnerships and more for the betterment of this continent whose cry for development has finally been heeded to.

The BRICS is considering launching the Development Bank. This is a new dimensional mind-set indicating a change in the world’s economic plate tectonics - another big plus for Africa.

As the National Standards Institution (NSI) takes shape and with a sound track record that they are certifying all the fish and fishery products to all the 27 European countries, this is proof of the potential of NSI to leverage economic growth.

As the industrial development policy is on the cards, NSI is working hard to ensure standards are part of this policy. However, manufacturing by both big companies and the SMEs will be in vain if the supply chain is not smoothened. The current unfair practices, which literary muscles out locally manufactured products in big-chained supermarkets, need closer examination. Locally produced goods are failing to hit the shelves as they have to undergo tedious and laborious registration processes done in South Africa. This suffocates the potential local businesses and economic growth. All stakeholders need to engage on this one and this should have been done as soon as yesterday . . . time is running out!

Once again, we are honoured to have the Founding Father, H.E. Dr Sam Nujoma speaking from retirement. Dr Nujoma does not run out of words; full of wisdom and inspiration and while we celebrate his life and immense contributions to this proud nation, we should engage our minds as individuals and ask deep penetrating questions as to what can we do as individuals to duplicate some of the noble principles and apply them in our lives to make this nation a prosperous one?

With the potential Namibia has, we could become the next Sweden. To date, we have gone past the middle income country, so why not seize the moment?

Happy reading till next month! PF