Vision 2030 – mission impossible?By: BRIGITTE WEIDLICH
NAMIBIA is supposed to develop into a fully industrialised nation by the year 2030 and for that, economic growth of at last seven per cent annually is required, but the global economic crisis, which was triggered by the collapse of financial institutions in several industrial countries, has stunted growth in Namibia as well.
With the 20th Independence anniversary to be celebrated next month, a look at set targets and achievements or the lack of them might be appropriate.
“In order for Namibia to achieve its development plan Vision 2030 we need an economic growth of 14 per cent each year but that is impossible,” economist Rainer Ritter said last week at a workshop of the Namibia Employers’ Federation (NEF).
The workshop centred round the effect of the global crisis on Namibia and nine other countries in Southern Africa.
Economic growth for this year is forecast to be around three per cent after the economy contracted by 1,9 per cent in 2009.
Vision 2030 is a comprehensive policy framework launched in 2004 by former President Sam Nujoma to fundamentally transform Namibia by 2030. This development framework is subdivided into various five-year national development plans (NDPs) to achieve the ambitious targets of Namibia becoming an industrialised nation by 2030, equalling the living standards of developed high-income nations. This includes the Namibian political and economic landscape in areas such as land reform, housing, the environment, wealth, education and building an economy that provides equal opportunities for all.
The 340-page document sets out the key development challenges for Government such as human resource development, job creation, provision of infrastructure, changes in the ownership patterns of the economy and reduction in income inequality and poverty.
Equity ownership (black empowerment) of the economy is to be extended so that people from all sectors of the population have a stake in the economy and power to influence economic decisions.
Within 20 years from now about 80 per cent of the country’s total population will live in urban areas, Vision 2030 predicts, and all of them are to have proper housing, sanitation and jobs that earn them an income to enjoy a modest but sound lifestyle.
Among the main targets set for 2030 are that unemployment will have declined to 5 per cent from the present 35 to 40 per cent and the Gini Coefficient, a measure of income inequality and poverty, will have fallen from the present 0.6 to 0.3.
In 2004 however, the Gini Coefficient was still higher at 0.7. The Gini Coefficient ranges from 0, which indicates complete equality to 1, which shows complete inequality.
By 2030 the per capita income would have increased to the level of developed high-income countries, according to the policy document. Currently the per capita income is at N$25 901 a year, according to available figures.
The manufacturing and service sectors are to account for and to contribute more than 80 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the rural sector, with its traditional economy, would by then have been transformed and integrated into the mainstream and formal economy.
According to figures from the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), local manufacturing by 2007 had reached only about 14 per cent of GDP.
Having a closer look at education targets and access to information and communication technology (ICT) as outlined in Vision 2030, several of them could not be achieved.
Namibia has a population of about 842 000 people under the age of 18 years, just over 40 per cent of an estimated two million people, according to the 2001 national census
All schools in Namibia – currently over 1 600 – were supposed to be equipped with drinking water, electricity and furniture by 2006. By 2005, Government wanted to have set up vocational training centres in all 13 regions – this target was also sadly missed with less than half of the regions being equipped with a VTC.
By this year the Education Ministry also wanted to have phased out unqualified and under-qualified teachers from schools – this target has not been fully reached as there is a severe teacher shortage.
Turning to the ICT sector, the aim of developing an ICT policy has been partly accomplished and a new but controversial law was passed last year, allowing for intelligence centres monitoring all e-mail, Internet and mobile phone traffic.
However, the noble goals of implementing “IT training from pre-primary education, virtual Internet-based training facilities to reach all Namibians and free broadband Internet access for the public” have yet to be implemented.
By this year (2010), Namibia was supposed to “have the largest wireless high-speed network in the world and due to low prices for IT equipment, the local production of solar-supported power supplies and in combination with wireless technology people in nearly all rural areas in Namibia have access to the Internet,” according to the Vision 2030 document. This has not materialised, neither has another target, namely that computer prices in Namibia would be one of the lowest in the world due to financial support and reduced taxes.
No review has taken place of Vision 2030 – at least not in the public domain. Only the first two National Development Plans were reviewed. Opposition parties in Parliament have failed to query this ambitious development ‘master plan’ for Namibia. It remains to be seen whether Vision 2030 is still a valid document or should quietly disappear and rather be absorbed into the more realistic five-year NDPs.