Not yet Uhuru
Windhoek – The Namibian Founding President, Dr Sam Nujoma, has joined the growing chorus for economic independence by calling for Namibia and Africa as a whole to promote local participation in the mainstream economy.
He made the call during the Sam Nujoma Innovative Enterprise Development Awards, which were organised by the Namibian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) in honour of excelling businesses in Namibia.
Nujoma, who has championed his country’s liberation from the early 1960s to 1990 when it attained independence, admitted that Namibia and the African continent need to do more to encourage local businesses to participate in the mainstream economy.
“Although we are enjoying political independence today. The independence we enjoy can be meaningless if it does not come with economic independence.
“We need to see our young entrepreneurs participating in the mainstream economy and also creating employment.
“Namibia and indeed Africa are blessed with natural resources and we should take advantage of this and participate in our economies.
“It is not surprising that after completing my presidential term I went back to school and studied Geology so I can have a much better understanding of our country’s rich resources.
“We should make sure that each and every Namibian child goes to school in order to empower them for the future,” Nujoma remarked to the ululation of delegates.
Nujoma believes participation of local people into the mainstream economy can abolish the cycle of poverty and inequality affecting the continent and also foster intra Africa trade.
His sentiments are also part of a growing call across the Southern African Development Community (SADC) where the bulk of the countries are calling for the emancipation of locals in order to participate fully in the mainstream economy.
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has also come up with a comprehensive indigenisation policy meant to increase local participation in the economy through partnering international investors.
Zimbabwe wants all foreign companies operating in the country to cede majority shareholding to local companies in a bid to improve local’s penetration in lucrative industries including mining and banking.
South Africa has also seen the Economic Freedom Fighters, EFF, spearheaded by firebrand politician Julius Malema, calling for the equitable distribution of wealth among its citizens.
Malema has on countless occasions called for the nationalisation of mines in that country in a bid to improve local participation in the economy.
South Africa ruling ANC party concurs that the country’s local people need to participate in the mainstream economy if the cycle of poverty is to be broken.
Botswana has taken the bold step to have its locally produced diamonds polished in that country in a move that President Khama Ian Khama hopes will improve local participation in their economic activities and also improve revenue inflows for the country.
Botswana model is already bearing fruits and creating employment for hundreds of locals and also presenting an opportunity for the local folk in that country to also participate in the diamond industry.
Zambian President Michael Sata has also called on foreign investors to include locals in their partnership deals. Sata wants to see more local companies participating in the lucrative copper mining and also in construction.