The rare phenomenon of working in a field one loves is exactly what the Namibian Competition Commission (NaCC) senior researcher, Taimi Amunkete, experiences.
As soon as she completed her bachelor degree course in economics at the University of Namibia (Unam), she commenced work as a researcher at the then Namibian Economic Policy Research Unit (Nepru). Nepru was a local non-governmental organisation (NGO) and the only independent research institute, which conducted economic and socio-economic research on behalf of both the public and private sectors. Unfortunately, it closed down in 2010 after Amunkete had worked there from early 2009. She considers her tenure at Nepru as a fundamental groundwork for her career because that is where she learnt the ropes, which sparked her interest for economic research.
She would join the NaCC in 2011 where she has risen through the ranks to become a senior researcher. Her role involves tackling the complex world of business competition regulation and establishing a level playing field, as per the NaCC mandate.
The NaCC’s competition law, in itself, is relatively new to the country but the commission has made significant strides within the short period it has been in existence.
Although she was the only researcher at her appointment, the Economics and Sector Research Division has grown to have its own director; Dr Michael Humavindu, Amunkete and another researcher, Joseph Hausiku and will continue to grow.
The NaCC has played a major role in the local business sector. Early this year, it turned down a merger between International SOS and Namibia Rescue Services (trading as E-Med Rescue), which the NaCC CEO, Mihe Gaomab II, stated then, had raised competition concerns.
“It is very pleasing to be part of the initial team that brought competition regulation to the country. Being part of the pioneer team of economists and law officers, who contribute to achieving a fair playing field by ensuring improved trading conditions for all market players, is exhilarating. The commission has embarked on its advocacy campaign to make firms more familiar with its role. Given the absence of competition regulation in the past, firms see our interaction with them as an opportunity to air their views on the status of competition in their respective industries. Hence, they are always eager to share such views. It thus makes it very interesting for me to hear from different firms and individuals about their perspectives on competition in Namibia,” she explains.
Her role revolves around research. This means applying one of her best given pieces of advice; to always ask questions. She does not have a day-to-day routine, as her work is dictated by the projects at hand. This generally involves issues of data collection, analyses and report writing. Although research generally takes a lot of preparation and is a process that can be quite complex - since it is, in many cases, dependant on third parties - Amunkete goes about it successfully by avoiding doing too many things at the same time to avoid pressure.
Teamwork is also crucial in avoiding oversight as it involves a lot of writing, fact finding and verification of information, she says. It can be quite difficult for one person to carry out all these tasks by themselves and hence the importance of teamwork.
“I set small goals for each task and work towards achieving those. That way, I end up achieving the bigger goal of completing the project at hand. Additionally, I have to be tenacious, inquisitive and open minded to different opinions that I come across during my research,” says Amunkete.
She completed her high school studies at the Swakopmund Secondary School in 2003 at the mere age 16, which perhaps was an early indication of her mindset. She is motivated by where she is in her life and career and thus knows it is a transitional stage towards attaining bigger things in life.
As a Namibian citizen, she says being an economist and being not only familiar with the economic state of affairs in the country but also having the opportunity to make a contribution towards the overall economic development of the country keeps her highly motivated and inspired. Although primarily a lover of fictional books, she always seeks to grow. She currently reads Get Started in Shares – Trading for the First-Time Investor, by Glen Arnold to familiarise herself with that aspect of economics.
Although she is deeply immersed in a field that sometimes cuts into her personal life, Amunkete believes it is important to make free time to do the things she enjoys because doing so rejuvenates and unwinds her mind, which makes her more efficient at work. One of the things she does is be actively involved in Move Namibia.
Move Namibia is a civil society organisation, which was established by a group of young people in response to the escalating number of cases of gender-based violence (GBV) and what is termed as “passion killing”, which has invaded Namibia over the recent years.
Amunkete is also passionate in stressing to her fellow youth how important education is. She underscores the fact that it is impossible to know what the future holds. So we must realise the decisions we make in the present regarding our education will come to affect us in future, whether positively or negatively. “I think the trick is to picture oneself as a young self-sufficient African. That is the only way we would be able to set enough ground for whatever we wish to accomplish in future,” Amunkete advices. PF