Quo vadis Namibia? - News - Gondwana Collection


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Quo vadis Namibia?

Avatar of inke inke - 26. September 2018 - Economics, Gondwana Collection

Namibia gained independence in 1990 and has since become a politically and economically stable country. Its constitution is considered one of the freest and most liberal in Africa and guarantees separation of powers, pluralism and freedom of the press. However, the country currently faces challenges including a high unemployment rate and the unresolved land issue. Where will Namibia be in 30 years?

The German freelance journalist Fabian von Poser (FvP), who is also the editor-in-chief of the magazine Sympathie-Magazin "Namibia verstehen" asked Gys Joubert (GJ) this question. Gys Joubert is the Managing Director of Gondwana Collection Namibia, one of the leading tourism companies in the country. Joubert has two Master’s degrees in Law. He practised for several years as a lawyer and worked in the banking sector for 10 years.  

FvP: In 2004 the Namibian government created "Vison 2030". What is your opinion on that?

GJ: I like and support Vision 2030, for two reasons: It is a bold and ambitious vision for the future of Namibia, and secondly it is a long-term vision. We need long-term thinking and goals to aspire to. The problem is however that a vision or plan without execution is pretty much worthless - and that in my mind is where our current challenges lie.

FvP: In your opinion, what are the crucial issues that will determine the future of Namibia a) politically and b) economically?

GJ: Over the past 28 years our government has created a politically stable environment - and stability is conducive to economic growth. Going forward, I believe it is crucial that we create regulatory certainty and consistency, which will enable growth. Namibia is part of an ever-increasing global world and we must ensure that we are a country in which it is easy to live, easy to do business, easy to invest and easy to visit. 

Namibia has a well-developed private sector and in particular a very stable financial sector. We have a wonderful climate, a relatively well-established infrastructure and a wonderful untouched natural world. We also have other good natural resources, so despite our small population we have many things to offer the world, but for that we must understand the interdependencies of the global economy and what it can offer us.   

FvP: What role will land reform play in this and how can it be resolved to the satisfaction of all?

GJ: Firstly, we must accept that, even in a very sparsely populated country like Namibia, we do not have enough arable land for every Namibian to prosper from agriculture. We are, by and large, a marginal agricultural land with limited rainfall.  Agriculture on its own will not make Namibia a rich country. 

Secondly, I believe that the biggest current frustration is that people do not have homes. Here land is not a constraint.  If we can have consistent, transparent and fair policy at both national and local government level, serviced land will increase and more people will have access to homes. The biggest constraint at the moment is serviced land and that scarcity has caused unreachable and unrealistic prices, which lock out a large portion of the population from owning a property. The ability to own a house, in my opinion, is directly linked to human dignity. 

FvP: In your opinion, what must be done to close the gap between rich and poor?

GJ: First and foremost, it is about education. Here, once again, our government is channelling a lot of resources to education but we are not seeing the necessary results. The management of those resources is of utmost importance. It is also important to take a critical look at our education system and the curriculum to see how relevant it is in today’s world, where technology is moving at a rapid speed, and to ensure that education is evolving at the same pace. This is an important issue worldwide. 

Secondly, this is one aspect where I believe there must be regulatory intervention to enable especially SMEs to get into mainstream business. I believe there is a lot of goodwill in the Namibian economy for the historic structural inequalities to be corrected, but this must be done by growing the cake and not simply dividing the cake. If this is not dealt with in a business-friendly manner, the problem will get worse instead of better.   

FvP: What will Namibia live on in 30 years - I mean, what needs to be done economically to advance the country?

GJ: Namibia needs a clear and consistent regulatory and policy environment. If you want an economy to advance, you usually need fewer rules, not more. Over-regulating can have detrimental results, especially in Africa. 

Personally, I believe tourism can change the future of Namibia in a sustainable manner. We have only 2.5 million people. Sustainable tourism can provide economic growth, especially employment growth in areas where it is most needed, which is outside the main cities. For this to happen, all stakeholders need to work together. We all have to invest in the right skills and tourism infrastructure needs to grow with the industry. Sustainable and transparent utilisation of other natural resources can also contribute to eradicate all forms of poverty and social injustices in Namibia. Value addition to those resources where it makes economic sense can play a major contributing role.   

FvP: What role will tourism play and what are the cornerstones of economically and environmentally sustainable tourism for you?

GJ: As I mentioned previously, I am of the opinion that tourism can play a determining role in our future. For this to happen an enabling environment needs to be created and both public and private sectors need to invest in sustainability. 

We need the right infrastructure such as airports and roads, but we also need the right regulatory environment. We need to protect what we are selling, which in essence is untouched nature. We also have to make sure that we offer the products in a sustainable manner, especially regarding the use and recycling of water and the protection and conservation of the natural environment. 

We further need to make sure that we as a nation understand and appreciate the value of tourism in terms of our service levels, both in the private and public sectors. There is no reason why tourism should not be the leading economic sector in our country. It could also be the most sustainable.

FvP: Will the legacies of the German colonial era, but above all the racial segregation of the South African apartheid government, still be felt in 30 years?

GJ: The answer to that question is up to each and every Namibian today. If we all simply live for only ourselves and see what we can get from our Namibia without thinking about our fellow Namibians, then yes, I am afraid it will still be felt in 30 years time. Inequality will not go away by itself.  It is something that we will actively have to manage and address. Once again government must be commended for the social and economic successes in this regard over the past 28 years.  

Socially I believe we are a very coherent nation but we should not be naïve to think that economic suffering will not have an impact on this. We must all feel a real sense of responsibility in this regard and if we do, I believe in 30 years time, the impact of those terrible times will be limited to the confines of Namibian history books. 

History also provides an opportunity here. If we come to the understanding that diversity makes us stronger, by not just tolerating, but by respecting and even loving our differences, then we can come through this much better. 

This is a credo that the Gondwana Collection has embraced and successfully implemented, and one which it lives, making it a leading example in the country.

The German magazine Sympathie-Magazin "Namibia verstehen" aspires to promote intercultural communication and understanding. The magazine is published by the Studienkreis für Tourismus und Entwicklung e.V. together with the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

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Harry Holland-Muter

02. October 2018

Well done Gys. Straight answers to fairly straight questions.

Almarie Bartsch

02. October 2018

Fantastic interview! Fully agree with your views Gys.

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