How Can We Ease Conducting Business in Namibia?

Raimo Ndapewa Naanda

The government adopted a revised technical vocational education and training (TVET) policy in 2021, which if implemented will see Namibia have one of the best TVET systems worldwide.

Employers also deserve applause for contributing to the Vocational Education and Training Levy, which ensures sufficient funding to improve TVET delivery in the country.

In recent years, TVET in Namibia has been gaining prominence and is considered an equally important education stream.
TVET refers to the acquisition of practical skills, understanding and knowledge relating to various sectors.

TVET is an effective tool for poverty eradication because it empowers people to develop their full capacities and to seize employment and social opportunities; raises productivity of workers and enterprises; contributes to boosting future innovation and development; increases profit; encourages domestic and foreign investment, thus job growth; and it expands labour market opportunities while reducing social inequalities.

The Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA) recently announced the preliminary census results indicating that youth under the age of 35 make up 71,1% of the population, while youth unemployment is estimated to be 38,41%.

With such a high youth unemployment rate, TVET is one of the measures that can provide hope to the youth who are desperate for job opportunities.

Policymakers call for the youth to create jobs, while TVET graduates are encouraged to be job creators, as opposed to job seekers. According to the latest World Bank annual rankings on the ease to conduct business, Namibia ranked 104 among 190 economies in the ease of doing business. This indicates that it is not easy to conduct business in Namibia.

With over 34 000 trainees registered in the TVET sector in the country, one wonders where these trainees disappear to after graduating? What is clear is that the economy cannot absorb even 10% of graduates, leading to many joining the unemployed masses on the street.

These graduates are empowered with entrepreneurial skills but the challenge remains how to start their businesses.

TVET graduates indicate that finance, inadequate business start-up training, government regulations, crime, infrastructure and technology are some of the challenges to starting their own businesses.

In supporting graduates to start their businesses, there is the need to identify and develop appropriate financing models for small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The government also needs to establish friendly business loaning systems with low interest rate charges, as well as simplified business registration processes.

The government and the private sector need to come together to address the SME’s financial needs, as well as to establish various infrastructure to provide an enabling environment for production and trading.

Management training and capacity building activities should be a continuous process for the SMEs.

There is a need for an SME information centre to be established to provide information on developments relating to market trends and to assist in linking SME operators to service providers at affordable rates.

Thus, it is crucial that the government integrates informal economy issues into overall youth development issues, rather than isolating the youth and the informal economy.

The government can support the SME sector by making sure that a substantial percentage of government procurement is spent on local small enterprises, rather than supporting foreign businesses.

The government also needs to promote employment within the formal sector by ensuring the use of more labour intensive works, promoting the manufacturing sector, regulating the formal sector to level the playing field and restricting competition, which in turn calls for highly skilled labourers.

Government participation in the sector is of utmost importance, as it will boost the support for SMEs. With the right support, the informal enterprises could be turned into formal businesses.

With emerging economy opportunities such as green hydrogen and oil and gas discoveries, there are expected spin-offs for aspiring entrepreneurs to benefit but only if measures are put in place to ease the conduct of business.

Poverty can only be alleviated by creating employment opportunities. Let’s walk the talk if we are to make a difference in this country.

  • *Raimo Ndapewa Naanda is a retired technical vocational education and training expert.

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