Namibia needs to remove bottlenecks that make it difficult for the private sector to create wealth, the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) has said.
Speaking during a National Corporate Forum Breakfast session organised by the NCCI last week, members of the private sector expressed scepticism that Namibia will be able to achieve some of the targets set as part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) if the Government does not create an environment conducive for wealth generation.
Some of the SDGs pointed out include Goal 1, which calls for an end to poverty in all its manifestations by 2030, Goal 2, which aims to end hunger and all forms of malnutrition by 2030 as well as Goal 4, which aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.
“We are not going to do anything if we do not, as the private sector, continue generating wealth. With the right environment as entrepreneurs [we will be able] to generate wealth, then there will be more room to talk about eradicating poverty and prosperity for all,” the business grouping said.
The NCCI said policy makers and leaders need to integrate business into their planning processes for the goals to be attainable.
“The United Nations must be honest to Africa and the business community while African leaders must make sure that they promote and create entrepreneurship,” one member said.
Businesses were encouraged to contribute to the SDGs despite the challenges the country is facing due to the current economic slowdown, which makes the realisation of SDGs even more difficult.
“Currently, the economy is parked, contractors owe millions to suppliers. So, how do we move to eradicate poverty when everything is at a standstill?” another member said.
Businesses agreed on the need for the private sector and education sector to forge good relationships from the foundation.
“There should be a linkage between primary and secondary school going up for us to build Namibia,” the members said.
The SDGs, which were launched last year, follow the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which were agreed on by world leaders at the turn of the century.
Addressing the forum, the United Nations Development Programme Resident Representative, Kiki Gbeho, agreed with the private sector that education was the key in achieving SDGs.
“How do we ensure that the system is training enough people to take over after a period of time? Sixty-six percent of the population in Africa are young people and if we do not find a way forward for young people, we will find ourselves in a dilemma. If we do not tackle young people, it is our biggest opportunity and also our biggest risk,” Gbeho said.
She added that bringing the efficiency that is in the private sector together with the Government can be powerful in ending poverty and ensuring prosperity for all.
Namibia has a Gini Coefficient of .54, making it one of the most unequal income distribution countries in the world.
According to Gbeho, new partnerships need to be forged if progress is to be made.
“We need to foster a new era of collaboration and we believe the private sector has a unique opportunity to embrace this development agenda and recognize it as a driver of sustainable business strategies, innovation and investment decisions,” Gbeho continued.
She pointed out that during the 15 years of MDGs, the initiative managed to reduce the number of hungry people in the world from 15 percent to 11 percent.
The MDGs halved the proportion of people living in extreme poverty, and the number of the world’s workers living on less than US$1.90 a day declined from 28 percent to 10 percent.
According to a report on the MDGs released in 2015, Namibia managed to achieve the poverty reduction targets ahead of 2015, but were not on target to achieve equitable distribution of income or eradication of hunger.
Of the three targets that Namibia had set to achieve under the Achieve Universal Primary Education MDG by 2015, the net enrolment in primary education target, had been achieved, the literacy rate was on target to be achieved, while the survival to Grade 8 target was not achievable, the report stated. Namibia ranked number one in Africa in the provision of education; number four in terms of gender parity in Parliament and number one in Africa on press freedom.
Namibia had an open economy with good quality infrastructure and was a country that had managed to reduce inequality while growing its gross national income.
The United Nations estimates that by 2050, the world will need to produce twice as much food as it produced in 2000, but with the same amount of land and using less water.