Nearly 15 per cent of Namibians were poor in 2018

19 Sep 2019 17:30pm
WINDHOEK, 19 SEP (NAMPA) – In 2018, 14,6 per cent of Namibians were poor, a decrease from 22,6 per cent of the population classified as poor in 2009, Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said on Thursday.
The prime minister said this during the Bank of Namibia’s 20th annual symposium held in Windhoek under the theme ‘Escaping the middle-income trap: A perspective from Namibia’.
The international poverty line is set at US.dollars 1.90 per person, per day.
“However, there is a need to push for increased growth in the economy to allow it to spur further socio-economic benefits for our people,” Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said.
She added that the portion of Namibians living below the national poverty line more than halved from 69,3 per cent in the 1993/94 financial year to 28,7 per cent in 2009/10 and further to 17,4 per cent in the 2015/16 financial year.
High poverty is prevalent in female, children and elderly-headed households, as well as amongst lower educated families and larger families, including labourers in subsistence farming.
Kuugongelwa-Amadhila listed the growth Namibia has had between 1990 and 2016 by noting there has been a decline in inequality from 0,70 in 1993 to 0,56 by 2016 as measured by the Gini coefficient ratio – which measures income inequality.
The prime minister further said between 1990 and 2016 there was expanded access to education and basic services, while life expectancy increased to 64 years since 2014. Over the same period, economic expansion averaged 4,3 per cent; enabling growth in per capita incomes, improvement in the quality of life and other socio-economic developments.
A relatively efficient revenue system was also implemented by the government, with a tax-to-gross domestic product ratio of about 30 per cent enabling the State to fund economic development programmes and increase provision of services to the population.
The prime minister further highlighted that there are multiple barriers to tackle in order to direct Namibia’s progress out of a potential middle-income trap.
Two such barriers are the need to reduce income inequality, which is one of the highest globally, reflecting skewness in the distribution of income and wealth, and the high unemployment rate.
Currently, the overall unemployment rate stands at 33,4 per cent, with 34,3 per cent of women in Namibia and 46,1 per cent of the youth being unemployed.
Kuugongelwa-Amadhila added that through enhancing policy certainty and internal institutional efficiencies, including embracing the digital economy, there will be improved productivity levels and national competitiveness.
On Namibia’s aspirations to achieve Vision 2030, the prime minister said both the public and private sector need to be aggressive to leverage benefits from regional integration and global value chains.
She also commended the recent economic summit which provided policy clarity on issues such as the application of the envisaged National Equitable Economic Empowerment Bill, Namibia Investment Promotion Act and administrative reforms on visa requirements to facilitate ease of doing business.