Agribank chief executive officer, Sakaria Nghikembua. PHOTO: Agribank

Given the prospects of better showers for the 2019/20 rainfall season, the chief executive officer of Agribank Namibia Sakaria Nghikembua, says the country should invest more in creating a sustainable water network.

 Nghikembua made these during his end-of-year message this week.

“Looking ahead, local economic pundits expect GDP to increase by 0.9 percent and 1.5 percent in 2020 and 2021, respectively, mainly on the back of better rainfall prospects for the 2019/20 rainfall season that could result in improved agricultural sector performance,” explained Nghikembua

“This is a huge conditional leap of faith as it would take years for the sector to recover. Furthermore, the mega road and infrastructure projects expected in 2020 could potentially restore growth in the construction industry.” 

He stressed that Namibia should strategically invest more in climate resilience as well as tapping the water resources wherever they are located. According to him, the country should create nationwide water networks.

“We should make this water available for year-round irrigation to citizens across the country at affordable levels. This will ensure we minimise the impact of drought in any one year. It will also ensure that we progressively reduce poverty across society over time.”

Reflecting on 2019, Nghikembua noted that the growth momentum in the domestic economy has continued to be negative overall and has consistently pitched below levels last seen in 2008.

He is of the opinion that the weak growth in the retail and wholesale, construction and manufacturing sectors, coupled with the prolonged drought, created a difficult year for the Namibian economy.

“The continued contraction in government spending, constant reliance on public funds for economic activities combined with unfavourable climatic conditions, have exacerbated the recession, making it difficult for the economy to recover,” he added. 

Nghikembua advised that the extended low growth environment appears unique to Namibia’s growth path.

He added that the economic recovery can only result from collective action by the private and public sectors.

“Private investment needs to happen to allow public resources to be applied to the creation and sustenance of public goods.”

These, he maintained, are education and health, social business (youth and SME development), and transport infrastructure. 

The Agribank boss further indicated that given the enormous challenges the country is facing, there is now, more than ever, need for all hands to be on deck.

“We need government, business, labour and all stakeholders to collaborate to improve economic prospects, stimulate growth, create jobs and alleviate poverty. Each organisation must intensely ask itself – what are we doing to contribute?, ‘what are we doing for youth unemployment?, what are we doing for the empowerment of women?.”

Nghikembua said, Agribank will continue to ask these questions and implement new action plans to make tangible contributions to this end.

“It is time we all took personal responsibility for the recovery of our economy and well-being of all Namibians. In the end, actions speak louder than words.” 

“In this difficult operating environment, Agribank has continued to advance loans and provide training and mentorship services to farmers, thereby helping create jobs and mitigate against poverty.”

He said that Agribank has also maintained credible financial performance, which helps to ensure we place the bank on a sustainable trajectory.

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