A Winning Nation [opinion]

WHAT constitutes a winning country? Economists and others hold differing views. Criteria have been developed and applied by institutions to measure and identify winners and even to name and shame laggards.

For example the World Economic Forum (WEF) applies a Human Capital Index. Countries are ranked by their ability to develop and deploy healthy, educated and able workers through education, health and wellness, workforce and employment, and enabling environment.

WEF is held in high regard as a think tank. It annually convenes a gathering in the Swiss ski resort Davos, where government leaders and delegates from diverse backgrounds, including business, the arts and civil society, gather to debate and reach common understanding on tackling matters of global economic importance.

Another example is the London-based Legatum Institute. They rank countries by prosperity. Others methods to determine the success or failure of a country is applied usually based on economic statistical indicators.

Are winning nations born or are they created?

Vision 2030 is Namibia’s road map to industrialisation. Launched by the founding President Sam Nujoma in June 2004, the clock is ticking with 15 years remaining for reaching the goal of becoming an upper-income country by 2030.

Some say Vision 2030 targets are unachievable, while others argue that it can be done. They defend their view by aocating an energised and renewed team effort.

Much has happened over the past years to strengthen the country’s economic base. Consider for example Growth at Home, a strategy to broaden the country’s industrial base, endorsed by Cabinet in readiness for implementation.

Changes to legislation are at various stages of development or nearing promulgation. This includes labour laws, investment regulations, the company’s act and the Namibia Retail Sector Charter.

Political and economic stability in a nation of diverse people who get along well and live in harmony, an infrastructure that is the envy of many coupled to other pluses provides the needed foundation to become a winning nation.

It will be naiumlve for anyone to deny that improvement is needed. Consider momentarily productivity and the building of productive capacity. Is there national buy-in?

The national airline’s slogan crows about carrying the spirit of the nation. A visit to their sales office in Windhoek’s city centre reflects a different picture. Eight customer service points of which three are staffed, but only one is functional. Yet staff chatter and walking about, seemingly aimlessly, stretching the patience of customers to the limit.

Nobody in their right mind condones the infliction of hardship on anyone, but saving jobs at the expense of an entity’s operational viability just does not make sense. Neither does subsidising losses from tax revenue needed to expand healthcare and education services.

Of late impending retrenchments at two parastatals dominated news headlines. At the two entities management considers ridding the State-owned enterprises (SOEs) of a bloated workforce as essential for survival, but worker representation just won’t come to the party.

Surely the solution lies in putting heads together to explore how the retrenched can be helped to venture into business or to upgrade skills so that they find jobs elsewhere.

In a developing economy availability must take precedence over profit. If not, people might be denied access to a service. So a national broadcaster that services a diverse people spread across this geographically large country, in their mother tongue, is essential. Without such a service many will be denied access to information, education and entertainment.

The medicine is bitter at times. Like the national broadcaster the diamond miner and other too had to go the staff reduction route. But they are now ger entities.

Spirited and productive people, who don’t fear challenges, but strive to find solutions, will make Namibia an upper-income country by 2030.

Source : The Namibian