ADDRESSING a room full of world leaders at the 77th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA 77), President Hage Geingob raised awareness about the unique challenges facing developing countries, emphasising that it is important to consider the reality of these vulnerabilities as they hinder development in countries that desperately need it.
He explained that one of the vulnerabilities facing Namibia is the country’s classification as an Upper-Middle Income Country, which he said makes mobilising resources to finance development goals difficult. This, he said, is because the formula used to determine such a classification does not consider or reflect the reality of Namibia as a sparsely populated developing country, with a vast income gap between the wealthy and the poor.
“I am pleased to hear that a number of developing and developed countries are in agreement with this unfair classification, which denies countries like Namibia access to soft loans and grants, which are necessary to fight inequality and to lift many out of poverty,” he added.
Geingob also made it clear that Namibia is not the only developing country faced with serious vulnerabilities, identifying Zimbabwe as another developing African nation that was dealt a bad hand.
He explained that, despite the laudable efforts made by President Emmerson Mnangagwa and the people of Zimbabwe, the country is struggling to make progress due to sanctions that were placed on it. He therefore called for the lifting of these sanctions, adding that Zimbabwe needs to be given a chance to succeed.
The president also explained that developing nations like Namibia remain vulnerable to the asymmetrical impacts of climate change. He thus emphasised that there is a need to act decisively to reduce carbon emissions. However, he added that a just energy transition is also about fair opportunities for developing nations to sustainably access the natural endowments at their disposal.
In this regard, he shared that Namibia has not only discovered promising deposits of hydrocarbons and rare earth materials, but the country also has major plans to decarbonise global sectors through the production of Green Hydrogen. The latter plan will be further discussed at the 27th Conference of the Parties (COP 27).
This is not the country’s only development ambition that Geingob highlighted at the UNGA 77. He added that the government is currently developing a consolidated national Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) strategy to provide overarching direction and multi-sectoral planning. This strategy, he explained, will also prioritise education reform to close the 4IR skills gap, cybersecurity and the expansion of Information Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure and services.
However, he suggested that to achieve these goals, attention must be given to the unique vulnerabilities of the country.
Nonetheless, he expressed optimism in the Namibian government’s ability to address the country’s challenges, specifically the triple challenges of inequality, unemployment and poverty. This optimism, he indicated, is based on his belief that the country has built strong governance architecture during its 32 years of independence.