Foreign investment can facilitate and accelerate growth, but it cannot be a substitute for domestic business, especially small and medium enterprises (SMEs), in creating employment. Pascal Dozie yesterday brought this message from the Commonwealth Business Council at the opening of the first-ever Namibia International Investment Forum in Windhoek.
The forum, which ends today, is taking place under the theme ‘Investment for Jobs and Wealth’. Dozie, chairman of the council, urged the local private sector to drive growth and investment, which will create jobs. “Employment is the easiest way to grow out of poverty and millions of Africans are denied the opportunity of doing so,” he said.
Although employment-generating investment requires an array of conditions, including a strong business environment, appropriate labour market regulation and market supporting institutions, entrepreneurship is pivotal, Dozie said. “The development of entrepreneurship, however, is perhaps the most important factor in creating jobs and a strong private sector, he said. In this regard, entrepreneurship development programmes is well worth it, he said. Namibia should also concentrate on its comparative advantages, Dozie said.
“Namibia has strong advantages in agriculture, mining, power and tourism sectors, but work must be done to develop new comparative advantages, particularly in manufacturing and value-added processing, he said. In addition, Namibia should ensure that the economy is equipped to take advantage of these factors by ensuring that the workforce is properly prepared and the necessary infrastructure is in place, he said. Dozie said he hopes the forum brings in investment to Namibia. However, he added: “It is vital for a sustainable economy that investment benefits those who are most in need, and employment is the most empowering way of making this happen.”