We waste our time, talking about where we would like to be as a country without doing anything about, this is not unique to Namibia, unfortunately, we often question as Young Global Leaders from this beautiful continent, as to why we are left behind and why we are the last frontier in the world, what is so special about us that we take the world cup on incompetency, slowness to implement, lowest value contribution to global economy.
Bringing my experience as a relatively new entrepreneur who left a professional career to answer the call of creating jobs locally and building what is planned to be a global business, this has been my experience –
1) The level of mistrust of local investors is extremely high. We are happiest when we are courting outside investors. A year ago, with a few months left before opening of the store, we engaged the DBN to raise debt funding and we were informed of the Equipment Scheme at the then Ministry of Trade and industry as a way that could address some of the equipment needs in our funding request. Being hesitant, we drafted the letter, indicated where we wanted to locate our factory, the value that this initiative will derive for the local economy, indicated our contribution to date, our pending application with the DBN and also what we had accomplished up to that point. To our surprise we received an answer within a relative short time, less than 3 months after our request. At this point we were still waiting for the DBN to respond. The store opened, our limited production started to slow us down and then we held our breath and received our equipment almost a year from date of when we received approval letter for the equipment. After a significant investment from our end and creating over 60 jobs in a space of a year, we are now left with an import bill of N$1 million and a closed import account with the Receiver of Revenue because the Inland Revenue staff continue to ignore our Equipment Agreement with the Ministry and question how we benefited from this scheme and want to know what is our contribution as though what we achieved some because of the scheme. Our contribution through supply chain local supply payments, houses mortgaged and funding contributed brings the equipment contribution by the Ministry (although well received and appreciated) to about 10% to the initiative. So our overall contribution as the local investor is significant.
Local investors are as important as outside investors, on any given day – they are so vested in this economy that they will do anything, work 24 hours if that is what is required to make their investment work. Let us appreciate ourselves more, let us support local businesses in a meaningful way so that they can grow their business in this small market to expand outside of Namibia to proudly raise the Namibian flag and also to increase our contribution to the global value chain. Not everyone is out to steal, not everyone is looking to skim the government. Lets put processes in place to identify good, meaningful business and a process to prosecute those that cheat the system.
2) Our labour wars against colonial companies has not ended – our labour laws are protectionist to an extend that they are more detrimental to job creation. We are destroyers of jobs and value. Staff can serve you notice and work their days as required and you as company have to honour that. You on the other hand cannot serve them notice and if you do use your right to serve them notice because of poor performance, they will leave and there is no counter for Companies at the Labour Commission office for you to take your grievances to be assisted.
3) Combine the anaemic talent supply add lack of work ethnic and you are slow company to execute. But this is what you companies start off in Namibia, our talent is not skilled but this would not be a real issue if there was work ethic because then talent gap could be easily and quickly overcome. However when you find that only 10% of hires have the required work ethic building a global business based in Namibia becomes a different ball game. Our focus on talent must become more targeted, the NTA appears more interested in courting asset managers for the collected Training levy than funding training and like most institutions that we set up, there is no oversight in terms of delivery and I fear that this will become another money accumulation institution, unproductive money, unproductive capital that could be used assist to move our economy forward.
4) Unproductive capital at local DFIs- 6 months to respond to a request as DFI, not acceptable.
We have real challenges but more than anything we have to have a voice in the global economy and this we can only achieve by export, by putting our goods into hands of consumers in markets that can drive and stimulant local production. We need to celebrate our brands that are out there flying the Namibian flag. I am optimistic about the opportunities that Namibians, lets create a different narrative about ourselves, lets us create an economic voice for Namibia, for our own prosperity.
Ally Shaningwa Inedhimbwa Angula CA (NAM) CA (SA) – Group Managing Director – Leap Holdings (Pty) Ltd and its subsidiaries