As Namibia moves into its third decade of independence, early optimism regarding the country`s ability to rapidly overcome the legacy of apartheid has been tempered by serious concern that the needs and expectations of a substantial portion of the population are not being met. With a continuing unemployment rate of over 37 percent and only one-fifth of the 20,000 Namibian graduates each year finding jobs, the Government of the Republic of Namibia (GRN) is vigorously seeking ways to accelerate income growth and job creation. For example the government has put N$8 billion in “Targeted Intervention Program for Employment Growth” (TIPEG) to create jobs through private and public sectors.
In seeking to spur economic growth, Namibia has much in its favor. Among its strengths are political stability, and highly developed infrastructure by regional standards, including a port that is a gateway to southern African markets, well paved highways, and a modern telecommunications system. Moreover, the nation is rich in natural resources. It is endowed with diamonds, uranium, lead, gold, copper, zinc, prolific fisheries, yet to be exploited natural gas, and some of the most spectacular and varied scenery and wildlife in the world.
From 2004 to 2005, USAID has provided direct support to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to increase their productivity through improved business and financial management, marketing, and business planning. USAID projects provided business development assistance that directly benefited 318 SMEs. To strengthen these enterprises, the projects provided a wide range of business development services through training, corporate mentorship, and support to Business Service Organizations (BSOs). Forty-six BSOs participated in providing business development services and 6,053 SME owners and their staff (2,243 men and 3,710 women) received services and training in various aspects of private sector growth and development. Key business development services provided to the SME owners and their staff included: business management, marketing, export promotion, book keeping, using IT for business communications and for accessing demand-supply information, and preparing tenders and loan applications.
The overall impact of business development services was evident in the value of sales transactions that increased to $4.866 million from $1.4 million in 2004. These results demonstrated substantial progress in linking large and smaller Namibian businesses, which indicate that the Namibian private sector is achieving progress in integrating domestic business and regional trade activities - a precondition to national and global competitiveness. Twelve large corporations participated in the Corporate Program implemented by the project that contributed to the SMEs linkages with large corporations in Namibia. As a result of Business-to-Business partnerships and linkages with larger firms, program-supported SMEs were able to obtain supplier credit from wholesalers, compete successfully for public and private sector tenders, and increase business transactions.
- Commissioned the Namibia Investor Roadmap report, pinpointing administrative, procedural, and regulatory impediments deterring investment in Namibia.
- Sponsored internships for hotel and hospitality management skills training in the U.S. for 10 under-graduate students of the Hotel Management School (Polytechnic of Namibia).
- Through the Junior Achievement Namibia equipped about 170 000 youth (in-school and out-of-school) with skills to establish and manage small businesses. Many have become successful entrepreneurs.
- Established Namibia’s first cotton ginning operation.
- Enabled over 6,000 SMEs to access micro-credit.
Trade and Regulatory Reform
Through its Southern African Trade Hub program (SATH), USAID currently seeks to increase international competitiveness, intra-regional trade and food security throughout the Southern African community of which Namibia is a member. SATH works closely with entities to provide technical assistance to both public and private sectors.
To achieve this objective, USAID strategies are aimed at:
- Effective implementation of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Free Trade Area (FTA) and other regional trade agreements
- Improved trade facilitation in transit, customs and other areas
- A better trade and investment environment through Improved policies
- Strengthened regional capacity for energy sector planning and cooperation
- New trade linkages established and greater competitiveness in staple foods and other strategic value chains
- Increased use and availability of financial products and services for trade and investment
- Increased investment through targeted promotion efforts
With regard to improved trade facilitation in transit and customs, USAID’s SATH in partnership with Microsoft, is helping to establish a one-stop electronic customs clearance process—or “single window”— on the Botswana-Namibia border that will allow customs agents to electronically exchange customs declarations data, thereby reducing transaction costs and transit times between Namibia and Botswana. USAID’s vision is that the five Southern African Customs Union (SACU) countries each develop National Single Windows that would be connected through the cloud-based connectivity program into a Regional SACU Single Window.
Last updated: August 05, 2014