Namibia not the same after Independence: Geingob

05 Apr 2016 19:40pm
WINDHOEK, 05 APR (NAMPA) - Namibia has achieved significant changes in its demographic composition, economy, poverty dimensions, health and infrastructural development after 26 years of independence, President Hage Geingob said on Tuesday.
“Anyone who denies this fact has donned the hat of unreasonable pessimism,” he said while presenting the 2016 State of the Nation Address (Sona) in Parliament.
“As optimist, we will continue to see the opportunity to improve as we march forward towards Vision 2030 and beyond.”
In 2004, Namibia adopted Vision 2030, a document that clearly spells out the country's development programmes and strategies to achieve its national objectives. Vision 2030 focuses on eight themes to realise the country's long-term goals.
These include inequality and social welfare; human resource development; and institutional capacity building. Other areas include macro-economic issues; population; health; energy; and education.
On the country’s demographics, he said there are almost one million more Namibians today than at Independence in 1990, and by 2027 the population size would have doubled.
He noted that only 28 per cent of Namibians lived in urban areas in 1991 and by 2011, this figure increased to 43 per cent.
“We are projecting that two years from now, in 2018, for the first time in our history, there will be more Namibians living in urban areas than in rural areas. This figure will increase to about 67 per cent in the year 2030.”
On poverty dimensions, Geingob said Namibia has made good progress in reducing poverty levels in Namibia.
“When the first comprehensive poverty count was taken in 1993/94 the poverty rate stood at 69 per cent. It has declined significantly to 29 per cent in 2009/10, the latest year for which poverty estimates are available.”
He added that the poverty situation has experienced further improvement since 2009/10 due to the fact that subsequent to 2009/10, Government injected more fiscal stimulus in the economy through a combination of increased spending and significant tax relief to individuals and companies.
“Consequently, over the past five years our economy has expanded at the fastest rates ever since Independence and in 2014, we started to see a downturn in the unemployment rate.”
On the economy, he said the size and structure of the Namibian economy has changed significantly and income levels have increased.
In 1990, the gross domestic product (GDP) was N.dollars 5.5 billion but by 2015, it increased to N.dollars 147.3 billion; an increase of 26 times. Similarly, per capita income increased from N.dollars 2 425 in 1990 to N.dollars 64 592 in 2015; a 30-fold increase.
“We are aware that per capita income, that is the average income, hides significant disparities. Although our gini-coefficient at 0.58 is still high by all measures, credit should be given to the fact that it has declined from a high of 0.7 at Independence. Our redistributive policies are, therefore, working and we are definitely moving in the right direction.”
On health, the president said the number of health facilities increased from 246 at Independence to 352 by 2015, adding that lifesaving drugs such as hypertensive and diabetic medicines are readily available.
“We have managed to reduce the infant mortality rate from 58 per 1 000 live births in 1992 to 33 per 1 000 live babies born in 2015.
“Despite occasional challenges, we have managed to kick out Malaria from Namibia, and have responded quickly to arrest the spread of HIV/AIDS.”
Close to 100 per cent of HIV/AIDS patients receive anti-retroviral medicines, an achievement lauded by the United Nations in 2015 when Namibia received an international prize for its response to the pandemic.
With respect to infrastructure, the length of Namibia’s bitumen road network increased from 4 572 km in 1990 to 7 561 km in 2015, representing an addition of 3 000 kilometres of tarred road.
“We have continuously expanded our port capacity. For example, at Independence our port handled a meagre 11 000 tons of cargo per annum but by 2015, it has increased to 6.1 million tons per annum. Similarly in 1990 about 150 thousand passengers passed through our airports and by 2015 we have exceeded the one million mark.”
Mobile communication coverage is now almost countrywide, compared to zero at Independence, while access to rural electrification increased from zero per cent at Independence to 34 per cent in 2015.