Diversify economy to find growth

Namibia needs to find ways of diversifying its struggling economy and cutting down the reliance on mining industry for sustenance, the vice chairperson of the Economic Association of Namibia (EAN), Nafiku Hamunime, said recently.

Hamunime was speaking at a panel discussion organised by the Hanns Siedel Foundation and EAN to find ways of Namibia dealing with the economic recession of the past two and a half years.

Hamunime said Namibia’s economic challenges have been fuelled by both domestic performance, as well as regional and global economic performance.

“The Namibia economy has been under pressure consistently for the past two years despite having sustained growth before. There is urgent need for the country to find ways to diversify the economy and not only rely on the extractive sector,” she said.

Hamunime said unemployment and poor performances by the different sectors contributed significantly to the poor performance by the Namibian economy which the central bank said will shrink further by 1.7% this year.

Skills, power

Nangula Uaandja, the deputy chairperson of the Namibia High Level Panel on Economic Growth, said Namibian economy needs to urgently look at ways of improving skills development.

Uaandja also bemoaned the high income inequality in Namibia, saying even if the economy performs well many poor people are still left out of the mainstream economy.

The chairperson of EAN, Rowland Brown, reacted to statement by the general manager of the Renewable Energy Industry Association of Namibia (REIAoN), Harald Schütt, that solar power is a cheaper alternative to coal generated power supplied by national power utility NamPower.

“The potential for solar power as an alternative and cheaper source of energy is overstated,” said Brown, who argued that solar energy should be treated with caution until solar power can have good storage.

Brown emphasised that solar panels only produce power for approximately 12 hours in the day, meaning that NamPower still has to meet the demand for those who have solar power when their solar power is not working.

Schütt expressed dissatisfaction at regulation that limits independent renewable energy producers from feeding their excess supply to the national grid.

He said the “monopoly” of NamPower and the City of Windhoek only allows private individuals who produce solar energy to put back in the grid the equivalent of what they consume in a year.

“By de-regulating and allowing surplus producers of solar energy to feed back the excess power into the national grid, money that would have been spent on importing energy from South Africa would remain in the Namibia economy,” Schütt said. – Nampa/Xinhua