Jul 03

NCCI State of Business Address: The Case of Rethink, Redefine and Trade Policy reform

By Josef Kefas Sheehama

The Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) hosts first-ever Namibia’s State of Business Address on the 26 June 2023, under the theme: ‘Private Sector’s Ordeals and Triumphs- Paving a Way for Public-Private Partnership.

The dialogue aims at strengthening private sector engagement in Namibia’s economic development agenda and facilitating collaboration among relevant stakeholders to address critical sector-specific constraints. This is the Public-Private Dialogue Forum to accelerate economic growth in the country. It is crucial to understand better how government can effectively work together with the private sector to reach the country’s full potential. The private sector is an engine for economic development, this is why NCCI held the Public-Private Dialogue Forum for Development aimed at unlocking all challenges that impede the growth of the sector. The adoption of the NCCI State of Business Address has two significant benefits to both. Firstly, it offers the possibility to have a holistic view of the industry’s value creation logic change focusing on the evolution of PPP’s. This enabled business communities to investigate main components of the economics such as resources and competences, organization and value proposition. Furthermore, to address the topic of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). These partnerships enabled sectors from to think outside the box and to develop innovative ways to do business. Therefore, beyond NCCI influence on innovation, inter-business partnerships can have positive impact on creative businesses profitability, that several alternative revenue sources result from inter-businesses partnerships.

Furthermore, let me argue that the state of an economy is directly related to the state of entrepreneurship in economy. Namibia’s economy recovery requires thinking not just knowledge. It needs the correct theory to take it from where it is to where we want it to be.

The country’s desperately needs adequate entrepreneurial capital which is a function of the number of entrepreneurs and quality of entrepreneurship. Without adequate high caliber entrepreneurs, Namibia’s economy is doomed! Action for addressing this deficit is required now. A rethink and redefine of the current entrepreneurship development in Namibia and the upgrade or complete overhaul is a vital part of the journey towards the economic growth of Namibia’s economy. Political decisions have not always been in the best interest of a vibrant economy and are partly to blame for the market inefficiencies present in Namibia. In order to create a conducive environment for business, a legal framework and strong institutions should be provided. Economic stability is maintained through policies implemented by the cabinet. These policies touch on every aspect of the domestic market and include monitory policy.

Additionally, the government need to prioritize with a clear focus on promoting economic growth. The government should avoid playing conflicting roles such as regulating and business ownership, competing and tax collecting, financing and consumption at the same time creates market inefficiencies in domestic market. Market forces should be left to determine prices in the economy unless if the services are deemed strategic such as national security, research and development, education, culture preservation and environmental protection. Over-regulating and micro managing the economy breeds bureaucracy in government, parallel market growth, weak institutions and a rent seeking mindset in the public sector. Namibia needs to rethink economic policies. Hence, only a policy rethink can save Namibia businesses.

Moreover, the prioritization of promotion of government’s policies of ease of doing business, job creation, poverty eradication and industrialization, among others, appears to have taken centre stage, with the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI), seeks to reform the industrial and trade policy to promote competitiveness and facilitate long-run growth. Successful industrial and trade policy should be focused, flexible and premised on the notion of embedded autonomy. At the just ended, NCCI State of Business Address, close to 99% business owners are frustrated by the policies and few lashed out ineffective service delivery. The business leaders send clear signals to policy makers that change is both necessary and achievable.

Therefore, business leaders believe that if Namibia is to unlock and unleash vast economic potential and truly achieve the goal of industrial revolution, there is the need to substantially improve the business environment and make it more friendly and conducive to both private and public, in terms of ease and cost of doing business. During the proceedings of NCCI State of Business Address some State Owned Enterprise (SOE) asserted, that the policymakers should avoid changing policies without engaging the affected parties. Poor government policies can be a threat to the sustainable business environment for both public and private sectors.

We are living through a fundamental transformation in the way we work. The government and businesses will need urgently to work closely together to encourage and facilitate the innovation needed to allow new businesses to be created at enormous scale to replace major job losses. These momentous changes raise huge challenges at a time when business leaders are already wrestling with unprecedented risk, disruption and political and societal upheaval. We need to be less wasteful. We need to economize our resources. The sooner we start tackling it, the better. The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) offers huge potential to transform and realign economies and societies. Furthermore, when solving problems that impact multiple, entrepreneurship, business and government can form relationships and solicit new ideas even before legislative and regulatory processes take shape. Through this initiative, public and the private sectors are collaborating to develop joint solutions that enhance the economic competitiveness efforts and improve information sharing and collection.

Henceforward, the Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs), the partnership strategies offer not only to solve national challenges, but also to create opportunities for economic growth and business success. Achievement of goals will depend on each side recognizing where it adds the most value and gains the greatest benefits, when government engages business interests where it can now provide only limited financial resources, when business leaders proactively leverage government resources and guiding actions to better support the competitive needs, or when both public and private sectors partner. The door to new partnering opportunities is beginning to open even wider.

To this end, NCCI State of Business Address can enhance business competitiveness in Namibia and beyond, if supported by the policymakers. It is imperative that governments better coordinate on policy and shared inclusive growth objectives. This will not only provide a clear roadmap for public-private partnerships but will facilitate the regulatory coordination that is necessary for large public-private partnerships to succeed.

Therefore, rethinking, redefine and reform development policy implies confronting these realities. This effort must be closely tied to policy goals, but also regulatory frameworks.