According to the 2016 Youth Status Report, poverty and unemployment is the biggest concern for Namibian youth. The report was presented to a room packed with over 300 young people from the 14 regions representing all 121 constituencies in the country as well as various stakeholders during the youth development seminar aptly themed “Putting Youth at the Heart of Development”. The three-day discourse platform held this week was aimed at validating the 2016 Youth Status report, the regional youth submissions towards the formulation of NDP5 and the National Youth Entrepreneurship Policy as well as reviewing the 3rd National Youth Policy. Government assured the youth that inclusive national youth development through various platforms will be maintained and in the same breath implored young people to hold hands instead of opposing each other and chart their own future.
These were the sentiments of youth minister Jerry Ekandjo when he opened the youth seminar, further urging the youth to focus on the collective instead of individuals. “We admit that we live in a world where there is scarcity of financial and human resources. Therefore, common sense dictates that we work in synergy; that we operate from an angle of complementing each other rather than opposing each other or creating unhealthy competition among us, which may negatively impact on the youth,” said the veteran minister, reiterating government’s commitment to youth development. The youth development seminar was a collaborative effort by the Ministry of Sport, Youth and National Service; the Office of the President; the Ministry of Economic Planning and National Planning Commission; the National Youth Council, and the National Youth Service with support from the Commonwealth Secretariat, Hanns Seidel Foundation and AIESEC Namibia.
Ekandjo emphasised the importance of consulting the youth on issues that affect them. He further stressed that “inclusive youth development requires teamwork, smart partnership, concerted efforts and constructive input from all stakeholders”. The minister linked the timeliness of the seminar to government efforts such as the Harambee Prosperity Plan, a Namibia action plan towards prosperity for all and a vehicle for the national development plans – including the NDP5 currently under formulation and Vision 2030. Regionally, he mentioned that President Hage Geingob recently signed the SADC Declaration on Youth Development and Empowerment and internationally that Namibia is signatory to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. This, he said, added relevance to the youth development seminar as a local effort aimed at ensuring that the country has adequate policies and structures in line with regional and international efforts.
According to the Youth Status report, the youth constitute a large portion of the population while urbanisation is rampant among the youth aged 15-24 – a clear indication that government should prioritise employment creation efforts in order to alleviate poverty. Hence, the successful implementation of the Harambee Prosperity Plan, among other government endeavours, is crucial and of great concern to the youth. The status report further outlined the importance of youth-oriented policies and called for comprehensive coordination, monitoring and evaluation of youth initiatives. The report enunciated the gap between consulting the youth and implementing their concerns, thus calling on government to practically heed input from the youth. The 2016 Youth Status report was compiled by Development Data to guide frameworks that address issues faced by the youth, including challenges, capacities and aspirations. Data collected were in partnership with National Youth Council, Ministry of Sport, Youth and National Service; Office of the President, National Planning Commission and various government ministries. Namibia Statistical Agency (NSA) was the key provider of secondary data. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) was a technical partner and the Namibian youth were the key beneficiaries and providers of primary data.