Llewellynle Hané

To build a sustainable future for Namibia, our children and far into the future, we must invest in Namibia.

We must invest at all levels and in all sectors. In the relatively short term, we envision achieving Vision 2030 as a nation. But what about beyond? Agenda 2063 is Africa’s development plan to achieve inclusive and sustainable socio-economic development over a 50-year period.

Namibia is considering many different forms of investment, ranging from infrastructure investment to clean energy, green economy, petroleum, hospitality and agriculture.

However, as a country championing a “knowledge-based” society, there seems to be a lack of real investment in technology. Especially if we look at other countries. Around the world, from the United States, Singapore and the United Kingdom, to name just three, actively investing in technology and innovation.

Much closer to home, we have Rwanda, a country that, through its Rwandan Innovation Fund, is stimulating and transforming the economy. The Fund fills the financing gap faced by technology companies at different stages of growth in Rwanda and the broader East Africa region. In order to fill the financing gap, the project will establish affordable financing mechanisms for businesses to grow, this should be used as a model, not only for Namibia, but also for many other emerging economies in Africa. Countries don’t have to be big or have large populations to start investing in technology; Israel and Estonia are prime examples. Israel has actually invested more than US$8.4 billion over the past 12 months, while Estonia has invested nearly US$1.2 billion over the same period.

The country of Estonia has only 1.3 million inhabitants, about one million less than Namibia. It shows that if the desire is there to innovate and invest, it is possible as a nation.

Governments have created a conducive investment and start-up climate in these countries so that entrepreneurs and existing businesses can access finance to develop new technologies and innovations. There is no reason why Namibia should not do the same.

Our country issues bonds to fund large capital investments as a country, with markets as volatile as they are around the world, government-issued bonds are highly sought after.

Namibian bonds financing infrastructure projects are often heavily oversubscribed and attract foreign investment. What if the Namibian government created a bond or an investment vehicle focused on investing in technology and innovation. Of course, the Bank of Namibia, DBN and GIPF already have investment funds, but there are no funds dedicated to technology. Imagine creating access to finance for entrepreneurs, businesses and developers here in Namibia.

Create a link that gives access to real venture capital. If we are serious as a nation to move from an agriculture-based society to a knowledge-based and technology-driven nation, we need investment. This investment should not just come from the Namibian people and local institutional investors, although that would be good. This would mean that we retain ownership of everything developed, created and invented within our borders.

The reality is that there are many funds, countries and people willing to invest in what could be the new Facebook, Tesla, WhatsApp, TikTok or the African Google.

By creating the right ecosystem and creating a pathway to access the necessary funding, there’s no reason that in a few years a technology innovation fund won’t start to pay off. Our population is young, motivated and capable, Africa has over a billion people, and we could innovate and develop our own technologies and applications.

A technology fund led by the Namibian government could accelerate our development as a nation and put us in the driving seat long before 2063.

*Llewellyn le Hané is the managing director of local tech company, Green Enterprise Solutions.

2022-07-06 Staff reporter