A Vision for the Nation
Dr Sam Nujoma speaks on Namibia’s development aspirations
Today all Namibian children are enjoying their rights to free education from Grade 1 to Grade 7 and this achievement can be used as one of the yardsticks for measuring the country’s progression towards achieving its development goals as outlined in Vision 2030.
Looking at the historical trajectory of Namibia, as a country that underwent various phases of destructive colonisation up until 1990, the Founding Father of the Nation, Dr Sam Shafiishuna Nujoma – in an exclusive interview with The Vision 2030 Focus Magazine – says that this is now one of the fastest-developing countries in Africa.
“The Namibian government has adopted planning as a management tool to ensure correct decision-making, of which Vision 2030 is the heart of that strategy,” says Dr Nujoma.
It was Dr Nujoma, during his Presidency, who brought Vision 2030 to life.
“The aims and objectives of Vision 2030 are that when the year 2030 comes, Namibia must be an industrialised country. It is against this background that Namibian children receive quality education so that they become doctors, lawyers, engineers, and geologists, marine biologists etc, in order to achieve Vision 2030,” Dr Nujoma explains.
The Founding Father highlighted some critical areas that the nation needs to focus on; pointing out that these will add impetus to the development agenda and improve the quality of living of Namibians.
“Since the youth are the future leaders of this country the most important thing is for them to concentrate on getting a good education and training so that we have a knowledge-based society by the year 2030.
“The youth must study, work hard and abstain from alcohol and drug abuse so that poverty and diseases like HIV and AIDS will not ruin their lives,” adds Dr Nujoma, who has always displayed a great passion for youth and education from the time that he and other luminaries prosecuted Namibia’s liberation struggle.
Leading by example, the Founding Father holds a Masters degree in Geology, which he obtained from the University of Namibia after he had retired from active politics and had stepped down as Head of State and Government.
It says a lot about the value he places in education that he was determined to further his education when he was over 70-years-old. As a Former President, he really did not have to get an advanced degree because he does not need much to add more gloss to an already glittering CV in public life both at home and internationally.
What he desires to see from Africa’s young people is innovation.
“The youth are the hope of society since they are the most flexible and creative-minded segment of the population.”
Turning his attentions to the apartheid structured education system, Dr Nujoma says there was a deliberate effort to ensure blacks would remain subservient to whites in their own country.
It is for this reason that he holds in high esteem current Defence Minister Nahas Angula – a former Education Minister and past Prime Minister – for prioritising the establishment of an education system in refugee and liberation army camps during the fight against South African apartheid.
People like Minister Angula were instrumental in reforming Namibia’s education sector after Independence in 1990.
Dr Nujoma continues: “I believe that the current youth are not like us who were born under the colonial era. You have the chance to show that by implementing the objectives of Vision 2030, there will be no poor person in Namibia and at least every Namibian citizen will be able to lead a quality lifestyle by 2030.
“There are a lot of minerals in Namibia such as uranium, copper, gold and many others like iron ore that can be used to manufacture cars, buses or even trains. The iron ore around Opuwo Mountains is the richest in the world, but for the young generation to exploit these minerals in the future, they need expertise in engineering, geology and mining to be able to manufacture…
“We can produce agricultural goods for our own consumption if the youth get adequate training in that sector. Namibia produces the best beef in the world.
“Right now we have a drought, but we can still have successful agricultural projects along the Kavango, Kwando and Zambezi rivers in order to ensure that not a single Namibian suffers from hunger because of the drought.”
Dr Nujoma says Namibia has already achieved some of the goals set out in Vision 2030, while others are at different stages of progression.
He cites as examples the fact that the government has built infrastructure such as highways linking Namibia to neighbouring countries to facilitate the easier flow of regional trade; opening of education institutions that have resulted in more Namibians getting training inside the country; and construction of more hospitals to ensure that the health provision needs of the people are fully catered for.
“Through Trans-Khalahari and Trans-Caprivi highways you can go to countries like Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia and these highways are important for inter-regional trade,” says Dr Nujoma.
Dr Nujoma indicates that since its establishment, the University of Namibia has opened campuses countrywide in addition to its main campus in Windhoek, showing the government's commitment to providing quality education to Namibians and the many other people from all over Africa who are now studying at the country’s premier institution of higher learning.
One such institutions of higher learning established under the university is the School of Engineering and Information Technology Ongwediva Campus in the northern part of Namibia. The institution has received international recognition as one of the best engineering universities in Africa.
In 2010, the University of Namibia established the School of Medicine in Windhoek as an effort by the government to stem the shortage of doctors in the country. Now Namibia is training its own doctors instead of relying on expatriates or sending its students to study abroad.
The first crop of locally-trained doctors and pharmacists are due to graduate in 2015.
Dr Nujoma says this dovetails with the Vision 2030 objective of continuing to uplift the healthcare delivery standards of the nation.
Besides the schools of Engineering and Medicine, the University of Namibia also has a campus in Henties Bay for those people who want to study Marine Biology.
This will help Namibia utilise its marine resources sustainably as this sector provides many job opportunities in addition to being a major contributor to the country’s GDP and economic development.
Related to this, Dr Nujoma highlights the expansion of the Walvis Bay harbour as a government initiative to enable the port to accommodate more ships – both cargo and passenger carriers – so as to improve trade and boost economic development.
This also enhances the capacity of the tourism and hospitality sector to contribute to Namibia’s growth.
The expanded handling facilities at the Port of Walvis Bay have increased business and trade opportunities as more cargo can be handled there.
Walvis Bay is positioning itself to become the marine gateway to Southern Africa.
• The original version of this article first appeared in Vision 2030 Focus Magazine.