We had the official academic welcome for the University today. This is a ceremony to welcome new and returning academics and support staff and set forth a vision for the coming year. I would guess there was about 200 people there to receive the ceremony which included a panel discussion titled “Innovation for a Knowledge Based Society”
The Rector delivered a fantastic speech as did the panel moderator Mr. Markus von Jeney who is president of the Engineering Council of Namibia. Many excellent examples were brought up by these well versed speech givers. The art of speech delivery is becoming more and more interesting to me even though I still get the shakes just thinking about delivering one.
The panel included key figures from Namibian business and government including the Honarable Nangolo Mbumba; Minister of Education, Angel Tordesillas; Chairman and Group CEO of Novanam Ltd (fisheries), David Nuyoma; CEO at the Development Bank of Namibia, Kobus van Graan; Managing Director of Namib Mills(manufacturing), and a surprise visit from one of the directors from the Bank of Windhoek.
All panel members had great visions of how innovation could be attained in Namibia. Examples of innovation by the Native people of Namibia are in fact still being used by the country. The San people who lived in some of the most extreme desert condition preserved water after the rainy season by mixing it with sand so that it could not evaporate. This method, as identfied by Mr. Von Jeney, is in use today at some of the dams.
Developing nations like Namibia are turning to the ‘tigers’ of the world economy, namely China and India, as models of what they may become. There were many arguments, particularity from students, who felt that business texts using examples of Western successes were outdated and should be replaced by those from the ‘tigers’.
One audeince member who represented the telecommunications industry in Namibia hinted at the possibility of deregulation in this sector. Currently Telecom Namibia (land) and MTC (cellular) have quite a monopoly going. One of the issues surrounding deregulation is the lack of skilled employees in this sector.
Namibia is in a very interesting situation and has a great many opportunities to improve the qualtity of life for its people. The economy is relatively stable, but not growing. Resources are vast, but most leave the country with foreign organizations. Inequality and racism are still aproblem. There are people who want to address these issues and make Namibia all that it can be. As Mr. Tordesillas noted, in the near future we will not refer to countries as developing or developed. We will refer to them as good, better or best at managing human and natural resources.