President Hage Geingob is delivering on his election campaign pledge of bringing prosperity to Namibia despite the current economic downturn, Geingob’s economic advisor, John Steytler, has said.
While Namibia’s first President Sam Nujoma is credited with bringing independence to Namibia and President Hifikepunye Pohamba with bringing stability, Geingob promised to bring prosperity during his term, but his plans have been thrown out of the window with the current economic depression.
“I don’t think that the plans of the president are under threat, the president’s key plan is still the Harambee Prosperity Plan,” Steytler said in an interview last week.
“We can still deliver on key elements of the plan. One thing that is important is to put the prosperity promise context. The president has always been saying that we want to lay the framework conditions to take us into an era of prosperity.
“We realise that there are certain framework conditions that we need to attend to before we can have high and sustained growth rates. These things are being attended to, there may be some bit of a lag effect as some of the effects of the things we are doing now we can only see them later.”
Steytler said when the president spoke about prosperity, he qualified it.
“He said prosperity does not mean opulence. Prosperity means we need to give some of the basic needs to our people.”
He said the basic needs Geingob wants to achieve include eliminating hunger.
“In terms of eliminating poverty, we don’t have a choice. We need to eliminate it. The current blue print for education speaks of 2025, but if we can do it a little bit earlier it will be better. The provision of shelter is one of the plans promised by Geingob.”
The provision of basic health services is also targeted, including addressing the problem of maternal deaths.
“In terms of education we are now shifting the attention to quality. We also said at tertiary level, we have to diversify. We should not only have a stream of university graduates, but also of technical education training and I think we are also making progress there.”
Geingob said the Harambee Prosperity Plan is not meant to do away with Vision 2030 or National Development Plans.
“The Harambee Prosperity Plan is a fast track plan, but not on everything. There are a few things we need to fast track over a four-year period. It is just basically an acceleration plan, but if you look at what is in the Harambee Prosperity Plan, you will find that 90 percent, if not more, are in the NDPs.”
Steytler further said that the current economic challenges facing the country are nothing out of the ordinary as they are a part of a normal economic cycle.
He said economies tend to go through ups and downs, adding that Namibia has been in worse economic situations before.
“We must remember that not so long ago, in 2009, we also had an economic crisis and at that point economic growth also dropped sharply, but the economy rebalanced, it found its equilibrium.”
Steytler, who has in the past worked as Head of Research at the Bank of Namibia and as Statistician General, said after the 2009 world economic crisis, Namibia registered high growth for about six years.
He expressed confidence that like in 2009, the economy will rebound.
“From where we sit, we believe that the economy has started to recover. The Governor of the Bank of Namibia also confirmed it that they see recovery, but for this year, the recovery is going to be slow. We think it will pick up gradually,” he said.
Steytler said in the 90s inflation was as high as 25 percent, with higher interest rates. “It was difficult to access funding in the late 90s.”
Other crises that have faced Namibia are the 2007 high food prices in Africa, which forced the government to zero rate certain goods like cooking oil and the 1997 Asian economic crisis, which led to the weakening of the Namibia dollar.
“For me, I cannot say that this is the worst, the data that we have does not support that.”