Half of Namibian population living in poverty – PM

At least 50% of Namibians are languishing in poverty as the country continues to reel under economic headwinds, Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila has revealed.

The Prime Minister implored technocrats drafting the sixth National Development Plan (NDP6) to innovative approaches that can optimise and catapult the economy in good shape.

"Since 2016 we have learned the country experienced a deterioration in macroeconomic fundamentals, economic growth and investments. We have seen public debt rise to unprecedented levels including inflation, thus eroding the purchasing power of household income. All these factors put pressure on the already high levels of unemployment and exposing our economies to external shocks," she said.

"This has had a negative impact on poverty and inequality. In fact, the gains we have made in terms of reducing poverty were almost completely wiped out. I remember we once reduced poverty from 38% to 18%, but now when you look at the new formula for calculating poverty, close to 50% of the population is living in poverty."

Kuugongelwa-Amadhila urges stakeholders to be resolute in planning, determined, and courageous to overcome and build back better, hence choosing the theme, “fostering recovery, inclusiveness, and resilience for quality and sustainable development”.

"It should not be business as usual, let's identify game changers across sectors and ministries then adopt innovative approaches while optimising coordination and cooperation among stakeholders. NDP6 is the last series of many government frameworks before reaching Vision 2030."

"Therefore, the formulation comes on the backdrop of Namibia and the globe having experienced and continue to experience unprecedented challenges stemming from climate change, collapse of commodity prices and investment, conflicts and geo-political tensions," she added.

NDP6 which serves as a national developmental guiding tool is being spearheaded by the National Planning Commission, and today marked the beginning of a series of the formulation process, of which the final roadmap will be launched in March 2025. The current NDP5 has been extended for two years to run parallel with Harambee Prosperity Plan II.

The Premier also urged technocrats to ensure the prioritisation of interventions and resource allocation in order to optimise outcomes. She said the previous frameworks were to bring the realisation of the long-term articulated goals of Vision 2030.

"We have realised significant achievements over the years, but we have also experienced setbacks. NDP6 should therefore be integrated with the view of avoiding duplications and wastages in planning systems, but aim to achieve coordinated and mutual results. Coordination ensures timely delivery of public inputs in the production system of the country," stressed the PM.

She also reminded the nation to catch up with the fast-paced technological trends in order to be on par with the world dynamics.

"Namibia is lagging behind in technology, thus as a nation without adopting new trends, the country will suffer loss of employment, uncompetitive products and relegation from the global value chain," she warned.

Following the oil discovery and the implementation of Green Hydrogen projects of which Namibia is likely to become a global player and leader, the PM emphasised that NDP6 should consolidate these new realities into tangible results in terms of sustainable development.

"Let’s build on national capacity by acquiring skills and knowledge to improve governance, employment and industrialisation so as to develop the resilience of our national economy," she said.

The Director General of the National Planning Commission, Obeth Kandjoze, signified the importance of national planning, saying it helps government to have an informed decision and provides direction. He pointed at the lack of schools in Walvis Bay which has resulted in a crisis, stating that is an example of the significance of planning.

"It is a situation that caught the government off guard because we did not survey during the period of Covid-19 so that we could already have an idea of where we are headed, and that is an aspect that is pivotal. The pressure could have been averted, hence as participants from various regions we really need to contribute so that all aspects can be included to improve the future," said Kandjoze.

National Planning Commission’s Chief National Development Advisor on Macroeconomic Planning Sylvester Mbangu said for the country to move forward there is a need to change reforms and break away from the existing operational structure of 30 years.

"For the past 30 years, we haven't made significant changes in our economy which consist of a large informal sector, that means if we have a large informal sector our wages are low, no formal contract, thus most of our people are vulnerable because of that," he reasoned.

On that note, Mbangu said NDP6 will be formulated on four pillars of Economic Recovery, Transformation and Resilience; Human Development and Community Resilience; Sustainable Development and New Growth Opportunities; and Effective Governance and Public Service.



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