Local young entrepreneurs were quite vocal about the new Namibia Investment Promotion Act that provides the trade minister the discretion to reserve specific economic sectors to local entrepreneurs. While some welcome the initiative, saying expatriates ought to enter into sectors where Namibians have no capacity to operate in, others question if entrepreneurs, including foreigners, ought to be limited to certain sectors given their businesses provide employment.
“Namibians need to ask themselves if foreigners are really taking locals jobs, especially those who are running their own businesses and are not in anyone’s employment,” says livestock entrepreneur, Laimi Elago.
Poultry farmer Michael Mulunga has a different view, saying specific markets are so informal they do not need technical expertise and should therefore be reserved for Namibians. “If we have expatriates coming here and doing what locals can do then they are making it difficult for locals for survive. The jobs of expatriates is to go in the markets were we have limited capacity,” said Mulunga during a recent entrepreneurship development programme information sharing session.
President Hage Geingob recently signed into law the Namibia Investment Promotion Act giving the Minister of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development the option to reserve certain sectors of the economy for Namibians. Some of the businesses activities already identified as those ought to be reserved for locals are take-way businesses, street vending, hairdressing, beauty salons, catering and retail businesses.
Hermien Elago, another entrepreneur, welcomed the Act as a noble idea but expressed doubts that it would address the root causes of unemployment in the country; the spirit of entitlement among young Namibians and the general lack of skills among the Namibian youth. “These people are not taking anyone’s jobs, they are taking up opportunities that are freely available to all of us,” she says.
While slightly in agreement with her sister, Laimi Elago feels the Chinese do need to be restricted to certain economic sectors. “I do feel the Chinese need to be restricted to the wholesale market and that Namibians should be allowed to then own and run Chinese shops,” she says.
Another entrepreneur, Elsarien Katiti, welcomes the Act, which he sees as a clarion call to young Namibians to be business-oriented and proactive. “It is about time that we become proactive in our own economic and financial independence. Stop waiting for handouts, an opportunity has been availed, take it,” said Katiti.
Caption (Pic: Local Entrepreneurs.jpg): Local entrepreneurs at Twapewa Kadhikwa’s Entrepreneurship Development Programme Information Sharing. (Photo: Selma Ikela).