Commodity-based industrialisation engine of growth: Schlettwein

22 Jul 2013 05:10
WINDHOEK, 22 JUL (NAMPA) - Trade and Industry Minister Calle Schlettwein says there is a need to trigger commodity-based industrialisation as an engine of growth and economic transformation as part of the core development plan for manufacturing in Namibia.
He said during the opening of Team Namibia’s one-day Annual General Meeting (AGM) here last week that the country is endowed with significant human and natural resources, which can be used to advance industrialisation and structural economic transformation through value-addition strategies in all sectors, but more particularly in agriculture and agro-processing, as well as in mining and mineral beneficiation.
With an abundance and rising demand for raw materials, Namibia exploited the commodity boom by forging new partnerships, boosting infrastructure investments and improving skills’ levels through heavy investments in education.
“But, we can do better. Reliance on primary education and the exports of raw materials entail huge foregone economic gain and income through the lack of value-addition; the export of jobs to countries where value is added, and exposure of risks due to the dependence on exhaustive commodities and fluctuations in demand and prices,” Schlettwein noted.
The minister stressed that this perpetual dependency on primary commodities in effect marginalised the Namibian economy, and similar African economies.
“The question is: how can we avoid this marginalisation from the global economy, and instead achieve sustainable, inclusive economic growth?” he asked.
Schlettwein said Namibia boasts a relative abundance of raw material - both soft such as livestock, grains and horticultural products, and hard such as copper, zinc and lead – that lend themselves to beneficiation and industrialisation.
He thus called for dialogue in public-private entities in order to improve the flow of information relating to socio-economic policy, and to improve buy-in into policy development, its implementation and outcomes.
Public-private dialogue has become widely recognised as an essential component of efforts to reform governance and the business climate, and Government may aim to acquire input on business conditions, bolster legitimacy and develop broad consensus positions.
The Trade Minister further stated that Government equally needs input from businesses and non-governmental entities for the development of regulatory and supervisory frameworks for trade and business so as to ensure that consumers are protected from unfair and harmful practices.