Planning beyond Natural Resources

By Penda Jonas Hashoongo
October 2015
Editors Note

Precious stones, Uranium and Marine resources are some of the key contributors, in the form of exports, to our Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This suggests that without these earth-given resources, Namibia’s famed prosperity would be a far-fetched ideal. With the context that there is merely a finite amount of these resources, how can we act today to ensure that our country can still attain prosperity beyond their lifespan?

Those with a keen eye on business matters would have notice a diminishing interest in the natural resources produced by our country as evidenced by the closure of a few precious metal mines, while some international firms that had an interest in the exploration of our seabed for oil and gas have also cut their losses and moved on to more certain exploration prospects.

To put things into the appropriate perspective, Namibia’s planning at this point in time is pillared on the need to fulfill the seven (7) core goals of ensuring Equality and Social Welfare; Human Resources Development and Institutional Capacity Building; Macro-economic issues; Population, Health and Development; Knowledge, Information and Technology; Factors of the External Environment as well as Namibia’s Natural Resources Sector. This is part of a larger program known affectionately as Vision 2030. This plan is the torch that is supposed to illuminate the country’s path to prosperity and all the elements enshrined therein are interrelated.

There is nothing altogether amiss about the focal point of Namibia’s planning, other than the fact that the protracted nature of policy creation and implementation will make it difficult if not impossible to achieve these goals in the next 15 years. However, the long term goals of the country should be geared towards the establishment of industries so that we can be prosperous even after our natural resources have been depleted.

The world is heading in a direction that prioritises ‘clean energy’. The implications this may have for Namibia is that in the not too distant future, we may encounter hurdles in marketing our natural resources such as Uranium. Although still heavily dependent on diminishing energy sources such as oil and gas, the world is edging increasingly closer to a dependency on renewable energy, which is more sustainable for both the current generation and those to come. Namibia, as a matter of urgency, needs to get on this bandwagon. To exemplify, there is no reason why a country which has an abundance of sunlight like Namibia needs to rely on neighbouring countries for power. Perishable though it may be, it is projected to last a lot longer than the other natural resources Namibia currently produces. If we are going to be reliant on natural resources, then it makes sense to take advantage of the most naturally abundant one, but I digress.

To use countries like England to show just how affluent a country can be without a reliance on natural resources, at least not those found in that country, it is vital to point out that England is a top ten country in terms of import volumes across the world. This means that they import significant quantities of raw materials, sometimes even natural resources, which they then use to produce finished goods which they export to make ridiculous profits. Imagine a scenario where England did not need to import these raw materials and could readily produce finished products.

Imagine how much more affluent that country would be. This is the path I would like to see Namibia take. One that either conserves our natural resources until such a time that our workforce is big enough for us to make use of them, or one that sees us importing raw materials from other countries and, like the case of England, use them to produce finished goods which we then export to other countries.