How can we improve ease of doing business in Namibia?
ENABLER: Technical vocational education and training can imporve ease of doing business in Namibia. PHOTO: CONTRIBUTED

How can we improve ease of doing business in Namibia?

This article focuses on the ease of conducting business in Namibia for graduates from our institutions of higher learning.

Let me start this opinion piece by commenting on government's promotion of technical vocational education and training (TVET) in Namibia.

Government adopted a revised TVET policy in 2021.

If the revised policy is implemented to the letter and spirit, Namibia will have one of the best TVET systems in the world.

I would also like to applaud employers for contributing to the Vocational Education and Training (VET) levy.

The contribution to the VET levy will ensure sufficient funding to improve TVET delivery in the country.

In recent years, TVET in Namibia has been gaining the prominence it deserves and is now considered as important an education stream as general and academic education. According to the UNESCO definition, TVET encompasses "aspects of the educational process involving, in addition to general education, the study of technologies and related sciences, and the acquisition of practical skills, attitudes, understanding, and knowledge relating to occupations in various sectors of economic and social life."

When one considers the importance of TVET, several key points come to mind:

TVET offers an effective tool for poverty eradication by empowering people to develop their full capacities and to seize employment and other opportunities. TVET raises productivity for both workers and enterprises, leading to increased profits and boosting innovation and development. TVET encourages both domestic and foreign investment and, thus, job growth, lowering unemployment and underemployment. Expands labour market opportunities and reduces social inequality.

The Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA) recently announced the preliminary census results, estimating that youth under the age of 35 make up around 71.1% of the population. The youth unemployment rate in Namibia is currently estimated at around 38.41%.

With such a high youth unemployment rate, TVET is seen as one of the measures that could provide hope to the youth. Throughout Namibia, youth are calling for job opportunities rather than useless speeches. The question that arises is: What should be done to create employment opportunities for youth? For me, TVET is one such solution.

Our policymakers are telling the youth to create jobs for themselves. TVET graduates are encouraged to be job creators as opposed to job seekers. One wonders whether people understand what it takes to start a business to provide employment opportunities.

According to the latest World Bank annual rankings on the ease of conducting business, Namibia ranked 104 among 190 economies in the ease of doing business.

Listen to graduates

What we need to understand are the barriers to conducting business in Namibia.

Today, it is estimated that there are over 34 000 trainees registered in the TVET sector in the country. One wonders where these trainees disappear after graduating from TVET centres. What is clear is that the economy cannot absorb even 10% of such graduates. This is an unfortunate situation that has led many of them to join the ranks of unemployed youth on the streets.

What is even more worrying is the fact that many of these graduates are empowered with entrepreneurial skills, but the challenge remains how to start their businesses.

Imagine what could happen in this country if only 50% of graduates from our institutions of higher learning could start a small business.

Speaking to some TVET graduates, many indicated that finance was the biggest challenge. Some said there was inadequate training to start businesses, while others pointed out that government regulations do not promote start-ups. Factors such as crime, infrastructure, markets, and technology were also cited as barriers.

In addition to the study findings of Dr Cyril Ogbokor and Eslon Ngeendepi, the graduates recommend:

*There is a need to identify and develop appropriate financing models for SMEs in Namibia. Government has to establish friendly business loaning systems, and this should include low interest rates. The need for a simplified business registration process cannot be overemphasised.

* ??Government and the private sector need to work together to address the needs of SMEs, especially their financial needs, in a more transparent and robust manner. In this regard, the SME bank that will be operational in due course is highly commendable.

* Establishment of various physical infrastructures to provide an enabling environment for production and trading by SME's.

* Management training and capacity-building activities.

* There is a need for an SME information centre to provide information to SMEs on developments relating to market trends and more.

* A majority of workers in the informal economy fall into the youth category. Therefore, it is crucial that the government integrate informal economy issues into overall youth development rather than isolating youth and the informal economy.

* ??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.

* ??Government also needs to promote employment within the formal sector.

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

*Dr Raimo Ndapewa Naanda is a retired TVET expert.


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