Nestled along Southern Africa’s western coast between Angola, Botswana and South Africa, the large but sparsely populated nation of Namibia hasn’t received much international news coverage since it won its independence from South Africa 27 years ago.
The main reason it hasn’t is because, despite the brutal quarter-century sectarian bush war that led up to its 1990 independence, early on, the new government implemented a reconciliation program to help remove the taint of South African-imposed apartheid and promote a healthy multifaceted community.
The look-to-the-future-and-not-the-past policy encouraged interracial cooperation and national progress for all Namibia’s people and set the stage for a real and functional democracy.
Consequently, while many of its neighbors continue to suffer from social violence and political strife, Namibia has managed to be a shining example of regional stability and self-governing values.
It is also a relative commercial success story, with abundant farming (although it still imports nearly half its grain) and rich mineral resources, including gem-quality diamonds and the world’s fifth-largest uranium reserves.
And now, with Chinese investors helping to develop a new Husab mining endeavor in the country’s western Swakopmund region, Namibia is set to become the world’s second-largest uranium producer by year’s end.
Namibia also produces large quantities of zinc, as well as gold and copper, and over the last few years, it has registered a steady annual GDP growth rate of an average 5 percent.
Nevertheless, Namibia is facing some serious economic concerns, including spiraling unemployment (now at nearly 50 percent) and a constant water shortage.
Namibia is the driest country in sub-Sahara Africa, which means that — at any given time — it is just one drought away from mass famine.
But while income disparity and extreme poverty are still pose major setbacks for Namibia, the African country is investing heavily in its future.
In fact, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has the highest public education expenditure to total government spending ratio among 115 countries, and seventh-highest education expenditure to gross domestic ratio.
Rather than spending on elaborate government palaces and monuments to past heroes, the Namibian government is investing in education.
And that is the best investment any government can make.
Thérèse Margolis can be reached at [email protected]