CORRECTION: Unemployment rate a serious development challenge

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WINDHOEK; The high unemployment rate in Namibia is still a serious development challenge faced by the country, the Director-General of the National Planning Commission (NPC), Tom Alweendo says.

The Namibia Labour Force Survey 2013 released in March this year showed that Namibia has an unemployment rate of 29.6 per cent.

Alweendo was speaking during the handing over of the Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA)’s 2013/14 annual report on Friday.

“We still have serious development challenges ahead of us. One of the main challenges we face is the fact that we still have too many Namibians that are looking for jobs that are not available,” he stressed.

The youth unemployment rate increased to 41 per cent in 2013 from 37 per cent the previous year. Female unemployment remained higher than male unemployment, with an overall unemployment rate of 33.1 per cent compared to 25.8 per cent for males, according to the labour force survey.

However, despite this he said, Namibia’s current development challenges are surmountable and government has strategies in place to address them. Alweendo said preservation and persistence are key in pursuing the country’s development agenda.

He noted that Namibia has made great strides in her development agenda.

“Today, Namibia is certainly a better place to live in than it was before Independence. One can cite various development indicators that have recorded remarkable progress,” he said.

Alweendo made reference to the size of the economy that increased from N.dollars 8 billion in 1990 to N.dollars 212 billion by the end of 2013. It is projected to reach N.dollars 146 billion by 2015. Per capita income has increased from N.dollars 5 500 at Independence in 1990 to N.dollars 55 500 at the end of 2013. While per capita income hides skewed income distribution, this is nevertheless a significant achievement, Alweendo noted.

Over the years, Namibia has attracted significant investment, both foreign and domestic. As of 2013, the total fix capital formation increased from a meagre N.dollars 1.1 billion in 1991 to N.dollars 30 billion. The percentage of people living in poverty has also declined significantly, from 70 per cent in 2001 to 28 per cent in 2011. More than 400 000 people were lifted out of poverty.

“We are therefore no longer the country with the highest income inequality in the world,” added Alweendo.