Namibia Should Use Own Consultants [opinion]

The Pro-Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Research of the University of Namibia (Unam), Professor Osmund Mwandemele, is against the engagement of foreign consultants by government to undertake work in the country, despite the fact that professionals at Unam are qualified to do the same work.

He said the government spends millions of dollars on foreign consultants in order to carry out work and place things on a sounder basis, while Namibia has its own local experts. “Government must stop spending millions of dollars to bring foreign consultants in who often bring nothing, but provide wrong aice. Our Permanent Secretaries should make use of our own consultants, especially those from the University of Namibia,” says Professor Mwandemele. Professor Mwandemele made the remarks last Friday during the university’s graduation ceremony, where 1 041 students graduated in various fields of study. He wanted to know why the government uses foreign consultants, while taxpayers’ money ends up being wasted on studies and qualifications that are not being utilised. “It is unacceptable. Some of the consultants’ reports are very misleading, but we pay millions of dollars for such work. Why should we waste money, if we have our own people? You must make use of your own people, because they know the environment better than anybody else.

I am speaking on behalf of all institutions of higher learning in Namibia,” the Pro-Vice Chancellor said in no uncertain terms. Government ocassionally invites foreign consultants to help struggling sectors in the country to get their house in order. Over the years a sizeable number of organisations or foreign consultants have been invited to aise government on how to reform the civil service, local government, the national health system, the public education sector and the banking sector among others. However, according to Professor Mwandemele, who delivered the keynote address on behalf of the acting Chancellor Professor Lazarus Hangula, Namibia should be proud that it is well on the way towards producing sufficient numbers of “teachers, nurses, legal experts, medical doctors, engineers, social workers, diplomats, economists, accountants, bankers, professors, political and social scientists and many other professionals.” He said the role that Unam and other institutions of higher learning have played in producing knowledge and cultivating human resources for development is there for all to see. He also encouraged Unam scholars to publish the results of their research in a manner that is accessible for use by policy makers, policy implementers and policy modifiers. “If in one year, we produce 10 PhDs or other doctoral graduates, there is no good reason why we should not see 10 publications in respected journals as a result of that good work.

Having done that there would be a need to find mutually beneficial ways of collaborating with industry to translate research results into the production of goods and services that would not only make a difference in people’s lives, but also grow the local economy. This has happened elsewhere in the world. With determination and hard work, we can make it happen in Namibia as well,” he said. He said he is optimistic that Unam will one day set up its own research park. “Nothing is impossible. After all, going to the moon was once a dream.” Among the 1041 graduates 77 of them were Master’s students and nine PhD candidates. Unam employes 122 PhD holders, 28 professors and over 288 lecturers all of them with Master’s degrees.

Source : New Era