Skills gap dogs Namibia’s development

Announcing the outcome of a two-day annual Cabinet Review, which was also attended by President Hifikepunye Pohamba, government said that the lack of resources highlighted the urgent need for the nation to adopt strategies to expand the economy to generate these resources needed to take the country forward on its development path.

“The lack of appropriately qualified and skilled human resources across offices, ministries and agencies, together with the lack of adequate resources to implement programmes and projects, were identified as two of the main challenges hampering the implementation of key government policies, programmes and activities,” said Information and Broadcasting minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah.

Nandi-Ndaitwah said government has noted the need to strike a balance between social and economic sectors.

She said that the social sector such as education, health, housing and sanitation have until now received priority attention, but added that for the Namibian economy to grow, attention needs to be focused on sectors that have the potential to generate resources and create employment opportunities.

Nandi-Ndaitwah said that government institutions are faced with the challenge of attracting, retaining and strategically deploy competent and appropriately trained human capital.

A lack of timeous monitoring and evaluation of the implementation status of key government policies, programmes and activities is also retarding progress.

Government said that it has established the Namibia Institute of Public Service Administration and Management (NIPAM) to pursue bilateral and multi-lateral negotiations to enhance the existing human capacity and build additional human capacity.

Nandi-Ndaitwah said that government would also formulate a strategy to attract and retain appropriately skilled and trained human resources in the public sector.

President Pohamba said that the public service should bond workers who are trained by public funds.

“We must make deliberate efforts to expand training opportunities and thereby enlarge the pool of experts and professionals who can implement government programmes.

“This implies that mechanisms should be put in place to ensure that those who receive training with public resources, serve in the public institutions for a prescribed time so that out people can benefit from their skills,” said Pohamba.

Namibia has steadily improved its economic credentials over the past couple of years and in December last year became the third country in sub-Saharan African to receive an investment grade rating after regional economic powerhouse, South Africa, and Botswana.

Fitch Ratings last year assigned Namibia an investment grade credit rating of BBB- with a stable outlook, citing the country’s stable policy environment, which include a low debt burden and current account surpluses. Namibia’s long term foreign currency rating is also ‘BBB-‘, while the long term local currency rating is ‘BBB’ both with a stable outlook.

Fitch Ratings, also assigned Namibia foreign currency rating of ‘F3’. The ratings, which measure economic growth potential, macroeconomic environment and policy consistency levels by governments, are assigned using letters ranging from ‘A’ (a high credit quality) to letter ‘D’ (indicating poorest credit quality).

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) two weeks ago praised Namibia’s robust economic growth but warned against increasing capital outflows, rising unemployment, widespread poverty and the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS.

The IMF said that Namibia’s real gross domestic product (GDP) is going to rise to around 4.5 percent from in 2006 from 4.3 percent in 2005 because of strong external demand.

The Fund projected the current account surplus to improve to 14 percent of GDP due to the strengthening of mining exports and a one-off windfall in customs union (SACU) revenues.

“Namibia’s medium-term economic outlook remains promising as long as it sustains prudent macroeconomic policies and tackles a number of challenges,” the IMF said.

December 2006
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