Coinciding with the nation’s 30th independence celebration, H.E. Dr Hage G. Geingob was sworn in for his second term as Namibia’s third President in March 2020 confirming Namibia’s ranking as one of the most politically stable countries in the continent.
With a background comprising the role as Namibia’s first ever Prime Minister and Minister of Trade and Industry, H.E Dr Geingob is on a lifetime mission to consolidate good constitution and policy for the nation, while simultaneously furthering the advancement of its health, education and infrastructure development.
- How is your administration working to realise the goals of Vision 2030?
Namibia continues to build and redefine institutional frameworks to ensure accountability, peace, security, improved service delivery and upholding the rule of law. Over the past five years, we reduced the size of the government and also cut down on wastage of public resources, urging governmental officials to do more with less. We are a country at peace and stable; the next phase is to create inclusive prosperity for all in the Namibian House. Our strategy for economic advancement focuses on diversification of economic activities and value addition through value chains. We have prioritised a stable macro-economic environment by managing public debt through fiscal consolidation strategies, which have started to bear fruit. As far as social progression is concerned, the focus lies on the improvement of the capabilities and abilities of Namibians by focusing on investment in education and health, strengthening social protection and reducing poverty and inequality. We have done well in this sector and Namibia is one of the few countries in Africa that offers a government-funded old age pension and grants for vulnerable children and orphans, as well as people with disability.
- What are the government’s priorities for 2020?
We made good progress over the past five years in creating a more stable macro-economic environment, conducive for growth and investment. Unfortunately, with COVID-19, we are now dealing with a crisis that has far reaching implications on our economy. It has the potential to erode the gains we have scored under very difficult conditions over the past six years. We will continue to make government more effective and smarter in order to deliver better services to our citizens and investors. We have made tremendous project progress and the focus is now on economic growth, value addition and private sector development, the creation of employment opportunities through targeted interventions for youth in labour intensive sectors such as infrastructure development, agriculture and tourism. We want to grow the economy whilst strengthening social safety nets through the establishment of the food bank.
- What is your administration doing to promote investment in Namibia?
Namibia is a gateway into southern Africa. The Namibian government committed itself to boost, retain and attract more domestic and foreign investment by creating a stable and investor friendly environment and offering generous investment incentives. We give, through the Investment Act, equal treatment to foreign and local investors, full protection of investments and openness to all sectors of the economy. The government has embarked on the establishment of the Integrated Client Service Facility (ICSF) or one-stop-shop aimed at improving the ease of doing business. The current investment incentives regime is also being revised to attract the required quantity and quality of investments. The amendment will allow for the introduction of Special Economic Zone incentives. Namibia hosted an international investment conference in Windhoek, which attracted over 700 potential investors from across the globe. Local investment summits are also held annually to promote investment and in one such summit held in 2019, N$2.5 billion investment pledges were received in identified sectors.
The government has invested strongly in infrastructure, and in key projects such as roads, airports and the Port of Walvis Bay, which now has a second container terminal. Infrastructure is an enabler to attracting investment, and we aim to become a logistic hub for southern Africa. We have also increased our presence globally by creating new diplomatic and commercial offices in targeted countries so that potential investors have access to information and facilitation of their business registration in Namibia is made easy. I make sure that I include business delegations during my trips and have held several investment road shows, of which the last was in New York in 2019.
- Is Namibia implementing the Blue Economy into its future development plans?
Namibia is finalising a Blue Economy national policy as outlined in its 5th National Development Plan (NDP5). By 2022, we will have a Blue Economy governance and management system. Namibia’s Blue Economy, which includes fisheries, marine mining, maritime transport and marine and coastal tourism accounts for about 28.8% of Namibia’s GDP in its current status. Our Blue Economy policies are about preservation of our ecosystem, with a focus on equity, low carbon footprint, resource efficiency, social inclusion and broad-based development. Living renewable marine resources will allow Namibia to expand its fishing and aquaculture sectors and foster the discovery of vibrant pharmaceutical, chemical and cosmetics industries.
- How will stronger cooperation with foreign countries and organisations create further opportunities for Namibian nationals?
Namibia is a relatively small economy in terms of scope and size. This presents a challenge to both local and foreign investors due to the lack of economies of scale. But, we are strategically located on the Atlantic Ocean, with a vast coastline and excellent infrastructure that allows for mobility of goods and services into the SADC region.
- What is your government doing to push for further improvements in economic competitiveness?
I am satisfied with the ongoing efforts to improve our competitiveness. On the WEF ranking of 2019, we moved up six places overall. The ICSF will create seamless and responsive client services for business and investors to start a business in Namibia through the provision of quality advice for businesses via the NamBizOne Portal, an integrated service delivery system using electronic platform that links different service providers and agencies of government. The Ministry of Trade and SME development is making progress in the establishment of the National Single Window project. The Single Window is a major trade reform project that encompasses multiple agencies and other partners. It involves some form of business process re-design, document simplification and data harmonisation. The project includes several implementation phases and is ultimately expected to reduce the number of days it takes for Namibian exports to cross borders, thereby encouraging cross-border initiatives that facilitate smooth cross border trade with trading partners.
- How does the Harambee Prosperity Plan (HPP) complement the long-term goal of the National Development Plans (NDPs) and Vision 2030?
The Harambee Prosperity Plan (HPP) re-emphasises governmental priorities as identified in the NDPs and the Vision 2030.It is complementary to current efforts. But it has endeavoured to fast track the implementation in governance, infrastructure, social progression, economic advancement and international cooperation. Notwithstanding the difficult economic situation during the past five years, we have been able to ensure that no one is left out by protecting the most vulnerable sectors of the population, increasing coverage and pension benefits for the elderly, vulnerable children and orphans, including people with disability. We have prioritised vocational education and training under HPP, science and technology with the objective of building our manufacturing base.
- For the FORBES AFRICA readers and the discerning investor, why is NOW the best time to invest in Namibia?
COVID-19 impacted the investment climate across the globe. However, our infrastructure is properly geared to attract investors as they look beyond COVID-19. Now is the best time to invest in Namibia because the country offers many untapped investment opportunities in sectors such as renewable energy, tourism, ICT, agro-processing, logistics and infrastructure development as well as manufacturing, to mention but just a few. In regards to renewable energy, according to the Global Solar Atlas of the World Bank, Namibia is ranked second in Africa in terms of irradiance levels. Namibia presents a solid business case for investors who are interested in renewable energy generation. Policy provisions that include a National Independent Power Producer Policy, Renewable Energy Feed-in Tariff (REFIT) Programme and a Modified Single Buyer Model support this investment opportunity. Furthermore, in its 2019 Travel & Tourism section of its Competitiveness Report, the World Economic Forum has ranked Namibia among the top five in sub-Saharan Africa, and the most improved country in terms of tourist services infrastructure. According to the World Economic Forum, we have the best road infrastructure in the continent. All in all, we offer investors one of the most politically stable environments on the continent, ranked again among the top five on the Mo Ibrahim African Governance Index of 2018. These factors make investors feel welcome and safe to invest in Namibia.