Against the backdrop of the strains that were unleashed by the economic woes that hit Namibia during the course of the year, government and Namibians as a whole have began to realise the need to live within their means.
The year has also taught us that the rich will not live comfortably as long as poor people exist in our society.
But now that the year has come to an end and the economic sector had the entire country on its knees, we can pause for a moment and reflect and at the same time come up with tangible and realistic outlook for the future.
Namibia currently finds itself at a pivotal time in history. Limited financial resources are crippling the war against poverty while indecisiveness continues to block the little progress we ought to be making when it comes to pushing for an equal society.
As a government that considers itself “pro-poor”, it has to do more to bridge the widening trust gap between government and the populace.
Too often senior officials have been accused of opening the doors of corruption, nepotism and favouritism to their cronies and proxies. Why then, despite the myriad of challenges and the systemic shortcomings should taxpayers continue to invest full trust in their government?
African governments, Namibia included, must be lauded for prioritising education on the continent. The education sector has been receiving the biggest budget allocation over the years, but the output is not correlating with the resources pumped into the sector, simply because the quality of products are not what we expect.
New Africa Magazine’s editor-in-large Baffour Ankomah was recently quoted saying: “I have always wondered how a continent besotted with PhDs still lacks the capacity to implement anything. It shows how badly we have educated ourselves. Last year I saw a statistic that said Africa had over half the world’s arts and humanities students, doing courses that equip them with no practical skills.”
Like Africa, Namibia has to take deliberate measures to capacitate its populace with skills that will propel the country to greatness.
Education investments will yield no results if it is not channelled into the right areas. These investments must also be driven in such a way that the system is equipped to produce quality products instead of focusing on numbers.
As a country, we need to tackle the skills deficit phenomena if we are to reach our development goals.
As we await 2018, it is my hope that as Namibians we use the festive period to rest our minds and bodies in the presence of our loved ones. It is also my hope that we all start 2018 on a positive note so that we can tackle national issues holistically instead of operating in silos.
Calle, The Patriot
Our readers voted for finance minister Calle Schlettwein as their Patriot of the Year. Stated as lead rationale is the manner in which he steered the country’s economic ship during the economic storm that engulfed Namibia in 2017.
Reacting briefly to this milestone, Schlettwein described 2017 as a tough year. “This was a tough year. Of course the highlights were the budget itself, the credit ratings and how we managed to pull through as a country, this tells me that we weathered the strorm. The achievement of the year is not that things went from bad to good, but the fact that we caught a serious downslide,” he said.
He added: “After the ratings we can proudly say we are in a slightly better spot compared to last year this time, we can now look forward to better growth. We can also say that we did not neglect the real economy and the needs of the people. That was our priority instead of chasing the targets of the ratings agencies. The positive movements in the economy are starting to show and that makes me a satisfied man.”
Schlettwein said the resolve to maintain the country’s macroeconomic stability, institutional architecture and pro-people governance model shows that Namibia is on the right track.
As we sign off for 2017, we wish all our patriotic readers a safe and festive season!