The outgoing United Nations (UN) resident coordinator, Sen Pang, believes Namibia should stop exporting raw materials to become self-sustainable.
Pang told The Namibian yesterday at State House the country will greatly benefit if it decides to add value domestically and export finished products.
“The raw material resources, if instead of exporting them as raw materials and having them further processed to sell as semi-finished or completed products, that would be a great gain for the country,” he said.
He said this would also help with Namibia’s over-reliance on imports.
“If we can increase self-dependency to reduce dependency on imports, that would be good. Namibia has rich natural resources and a very productive labour force,” Pang said.
Pang’s comments come a few weeks shy of the European Union (EU) and Namibia finalising their deal to export more unprocessed critical raw materials amid its energy crisis.
Almost a month ago, the trading bloc’s ambassador to Namibia, Sinikka Antila, met with president Hage Geingob at State House to iron out the details of an agreement on a partnership on critical raw materials and green hydrogen.
The UN resident coordinator’s suggestion joins the call of experts who want the government to export more refined goods, instead of raw materials, to create more value chains in the country.
The latest trade numbers show the majority of the goods exported in August this year were mainly precious stones (diamonds), uranium, non-monetary gold and petroleum oils. The total value of the exports stood at N$7,2 billion.
Pang said the UN started working on the ‘Buy Local, Grow Namibia’ campaign to train Namibians.
“We are also training young people with professional skills and knowledge so that they will be better equipped and prepared when they enter society,” he said.
The ‘Buy Local, Grow Namibia’ campaign was coined by the Ministry of Industrialisation and Trade, with the aim of stimulating the local consumption of goods and services, creating awareness on the importance of consuming locally manufactured goods and services, and by extension educating consumers about the economic and social advantages that local businesses bring to a community.
Moreover, Pang said they have challenges mobilising resources as a result of the country’s upper-middle income status. “But over the past years we have been trying to overcome this challenge. Despite this challenge, we have made visible achievements,” he said.
Pang said the middle-income status should make Namibia proud, because it proves the country has progressed since independence.
“Of course, there is the question of the gap between the rich and poor and those living under the poverty line,” he said.
However, the resident coordinator said the status could attract investment to address these issues.
Geingob has called for the removal of the status, sharing Pang’s sentiments that it prevents Namibia from mobilising resources for finance.
“The formula of taking our gross domestic product and dividing it by our small population, thus deriving a high per-capita income, is, without doubt, flawed and requires urgent consideration as it does not take into account the vast income disparities between the wealthy whites and the poor blacks,” the president said.