According to Trading Economics (online producer of statistics on economies) data from 1997 to 2015, Unemployment Rate in Namibia decreased to 27.40 percent in 2012 from 37.60 percent in 2008. Unemployment Rate in Namibia averaged 25.32 Percent from 1997 until 2012, reaching an all-time high of 37.60 Percent in 2008 and a record low of 19.50 Percent in 1997.
Although the unemployment numbers have reduced to less than 26% in the last 4 years, which has been a great improvement and is supposed to put less strain on the budgetary plans for job creation investment, the facts are that thousands of 19 year old Namibians join the unemployment industry every year as they finish matric.
Namibia needs to figure out a way that will drive the economy towards the statistics of 1997 and away from the statistics recorded in 2008.
This can be achieved by not overlooking the potential of Namibia’s manufacturing industry not only as an economy booming strategy but also as an employment creator especially for the youth who are mostly affected by unemployment.
The manufacturing industry can take a reasonable portion of the unemployed statistics. This is the industry that has been explored by other economies such as those of growing economies like China. It is an industry that accommodates the young, old, skilled and unskilled and most importantly its gender friendly unlike the industries of mining, fishing and construction which would only consider its intake on muscle.
The mining, fishing and construction industry accommodates the stronger which mostly shuts out unemployed female youths.
An immense number of those do not continue with tertiary education, but try to enter the job markets to support their livelihoods. A reasonable number is taken in the fishing and mining industry as low skilled labours who are subjected to retrenchments and going long periods without employment.
Only a few of these numbers go into Agriculture while another number goes into construction which again comes as cheap labour for the contractors. Another unexplored industry which is the taxi driving industry takes a reasonable amount of unemployed youth especially in the capital. The taxi industry has been overlooked as a means of employment for many years, although it would employment almost as many young men as the construction business would.
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It is with this that the Judgment Call would, reason that the incoming administration under the eye of the President-elect Dr Hage Geingob, steers the allocations of the budget to alleviating poverty by creating such opportunities in the Manufacturing industry. This would require more investment into the Ministry of Trade and Industry and also to take seriously the plights of the Manufacturing Association and related bodies.
More investments need to go into setting up structures that will help Namibia manufacture most of the goods that Namibia currently now imports.
Namibia imports goods such as toilet paper and tooth picks, which could be made here in Namibia.
According to a research done by the Bank of Namibia on the manufacturing industry in 2007 “The country has the potential of engaging in the production of other manufactured products which are currently not being produced. These products entail: swimming pools salts, bathing salts, leisure garments (i.e. hanging shirts and T-shirts), pencils, desks and chairs as well as cassava planting for fuel production. It is encouraging to note that the country has ventured into producing pineapples and intend to can them and produce pineapple juice’.
The research then continues to explain that Namibia is faced with the challenges of cost of electricity, high transport and port charges as well as unfair competition from well-established South African manufacturers, tense labour relations as well as the HIV/AIDS pandemic and its severe impact on productivity.
“The sector was also faced by problems relating to the access and cost of technology, as well as the availability of skilled labour” the research indicated. The Judgment Call would have to say that even the economies such as those of South Africa had to start somewhere which means that Namibia only needs to take a step into the door. Namibia would have to root itself in other markets as a brand which means that the government needs to do a lot to ensure that Namibian products are promoted overseas.
By Linekela Halwoodi: The Villager