Without investments, high quality and desirable jobs cannot be created. And heaven knows, Namibia needs jobs. With almost a third of our labour force currently out of work, this is arguably the single greatest issue facing the Namibian people, and the fight against poverty and inequality. Why then, you may ask, are currently doing so much to discourage investors from deploying their capital within Namibia’s borders. Despite development plans claiming the contrary, we appear to have embarked on a process of alienating the investor and treating foreigners as a second rate citizens.
Whether it’s limiting foreigners access to productive assets like land, threatening the over-regulating of withdrawal of foreign capital or profits (seemingly before it is invested or earned), stipulating that if you want to invest in Namibia creating jobs and wealth is not enough, but you too must handover a quarter of your capital to previously disadvantaged Namibians, or simply increasing bureaucracy for investors through regressive visa requirements, it all sends the messages to investors, particularly foreigners, that they are not wanted. So while we claim to want to become more competitive and to attract foreign investment, we seem hellbent on taking action that ensures the complete opposite. The president is of course correct in that we need to pull together (in the spirit of Harambee) to address our challenges of poverty inequality.
But to do this, capital must be must be courted, not condemned. We desperately need a change of course on these policies, before it is too late.