The national development plan (NDP) refers to a development strategy, containing development programmes that a country aims to achieve within the medium term, usually 5 years. The first National Development Plan (NDP1) in Namibia was launched in 1995. We are currently at NDP 4, which will come to an end at the end of the 2016/2017 financial year. This article provides an overview of the Namibian national development plans. Furthermore, it highlights and explains why information and communication technology (ICT) should be the focus of NDP 5.
Over the last years, we have seen information and communication technology become the cross-cutting component across all sectors of many economies. Moreover, the rise of ICT4D (ICT for Development) has proliferated the use of ICT to solve societal challenges such as socio-economic and international development.
ICT4D is an initiative aimed at bridging the digital divide (the disparity between the “haves” and “have-nots”) and aiding economic development by ensuring equitable access to up-to-date communication technologies. Putting the NDPs into context, the focus of NDP1 was to diversify the economy and consolidate on the achievements realised during the first five years of Independence. Furthermore, NDP1 emphasised on the need for a system of progress reporting on the implementation of the outlined targets, investment programmes and projects. Building on the success of NDP1, NDP2 took into account Namibia’s economic growth, which was highly depended on mining and natural resources at the time. NDP2 also emphasised on the need to care for the environment and cross-sectoral sustainability.
Building on the nation’s past successes, NDP3 specifically targeted to ensure that strides are made to help the nation achieve Vision 2030. Additionally, NDP3 targeted annual gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 5.5 percent under the baseline growth scenario and 6.5 percent per annum under the higher growth scenario. These growth rates were higher than those achieved in NDP2. However, if we have to achieve Vision 2030, our economy has to grow by at least 8 percent per annum. Unlike its three predecessors, NDP4 was focussed on a number of issues, taking into consideration issues such as:
• Employment creation
• High and sustained economic growth
• Increased income equality
Despite NDP4 being a targeted plan, like its predecessors many of the targets highlighted in the national development plans are not achieved to date. One of the many reasons why some programmes were not achieved is because NDPs comprise of too many programmes. This makes it difficult for all the set targets to be realised. Hence, it will be helpful for the success of the 5th National Development Plan for the targets to be very specific, measurable, achievable and realistic, and with specified timeline for each goal. This will not only ensure that all the goals set are achieved but ensure wider community impact. Secondly, NDPs were not participatory, as they focussed more on government as the creator of employment, for example, through Targeted Intervention Programme for Employment and Economic Growth (TIPEEG). We live in a digital-driven era, the fourth industrial revolution as others call it; therefore, it is important for the 5th National Development Plan to emphasise on how Namibia, as a country, can utilise ICT to create new industries, thus open new markets for start-ups, which will create new jobs, thus drastically reduce unemployment and poverty. In this fourth revolution, we are seeing a range of new technologies that combine the physical, digital and biological worlds.
These new technologies will impact all disciplines, economies and industries, and even challenge our ideas about what it means to be human. These technologies have huge potential to connect the entire Namibian house, drastically improve the efficiency of governance and business, and help renew the natural environment through better asset management. They also have potential to even undo all the damages previous industrial revolutions have caused. And also help our nation realise some of the goals that were not achieved in earlier national development plans. In conclusion, as much as we need a plan to solve Namibian problems, NDP 5 should be in line with global trends, thus ensuring that Namibia leverages on the fourth industrial revolution, which presents real opportunities to advance our economy and to pursue more distributed and sustainable socio-economic growth that every member of the Namibian house can benefit from.
Lameck Mbangula Amugongo is country Ambassador of 1 Billion Africa in Namibia. He holds B.IT: Software Engineering, B.Hons: SoftwareDevelopment (Cum Laude) and currently pursuing MSc. Computer Science