To build a sustainable future for Namibia, our children, and far into the future, we need to invest in the country. However, as a country championing itself as a “knowledge-based’” society, there seems to be a lack of real investment in technology, argues Llewellyn le Hané, executive chairperson of Green Enterprise Solutions.
Investment is needed at all levels and in all sectors. In the relative short term, we are looking at achieving Vision 2030 as a nation. But what about beyond?
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The Agenda 2063 is Africa’s development blueprint to achieve inclusive and sustainable socio-economic development over a 50-year period.
Namibia is looking at many different forms of investment from investing in, infrastructure, to clean energy, the green economy, oil, hospitality, and agriculture, but what about technology?
Across the world – from the USA and Singapore to the United Kingdom, to name just three – countries are actively investing in technology and innovation. Much closer to home we have Rwanda, a country that through its Rwanda Innovation Fund is driving and transforming the economy.
The fund address the financing gap that tech-enabled companies face at different growth stages in Rwanda and in the wider East African region. In order to address the financing gap, the project will establish affordable funding mechanisms for companies to grow. This should be used as a blueprint, not just for Namibia, but for many other emerging economies in Africa.
Countries don’t need to be large, or have big populations to start investing in technology, Israel and Estonia are perfect examples of this.
If Estonia can do it, Namibia can too
Israel, in fact, invested more than $8.4 billion in the last year with Estonia investing almost $1.2 billion in the same period. Estonia only has a population of 1.3 million, about a million less than Namibia. This goes to show that if the desire is there to innovate and invest, it is possible as a nation.
These governments created a conducive investment and start-up climate for entrepreneurs and existing companies to access funding to develop new technology and innovations. There is no reason Namibia cannot do the same.
Our country issues bonds to fund major capital investments. With markets as volatile as they are across the world, government-issued bonds are very sought after. Namibian bonds funding infrastructure projects are often majorly oversubscribed and garner investments from abroad.
What if the Namibian government was to create a bond or an investment vehicle that focused on technology and innovation? Of course, the Bank of Namibia, DBN, and GIPF already have investment funds, but there is no fund focused on technology. Imagine creating access to funding for entrepreneurs, companies, and developers right here in Namibia.
Let’s create a bond that gives access to true venture capital. If we are serious as a nation about moving away from being an agriculture-based society to becoming a knowledge-based and tech-driven nation, we need investment.
This investment does not just have to come from the Namibian people and local institutional investors, although that would be nice. This would mean we keep ownership of anything that is developed, created, and invented within our borders.
The reality is that there are plenty of funds, countries, and people willing to invest in what may potentially be the new Facebook, Tesla, WhatsApp, TikTok or the African Google. By creating the right ecosystem and creating a path to access the necessary funding there is no reason that within a few short years a technology innovation fund would not start bearing fruit.
Our population is young, driven and capable. Africa has a population of more than a billion people, and we could be innovating and developing our own technologies and applications. A Namibian government-driven technology fund could accelerate our development as a nation and put us in the driver’s seat well before 2063.
- Llewellyn le Hané is the executive chairperson of Green Enterprise Solutions in Namibia.