Charting a future for a youthful, growing population

Namibia’s recent census has provided an unadulterated illumination of the challenges and opportunities facing the nation as it navigates its future.

With a population now exceeding three million, the growth trajectory since independence is undeniable. It is also a significant milestone in the country’s demographic landscape.

This latest count, delayed by the pandemic and resource constraints, marks the nation’s first digital and spatially-enabled census effort, showcasing a leap in technological adoption for national planning.

The surge in urban population, outpacing rural growth, accentuates a global trend towards urbanization, but it also brings to light the pressing issues of urban planning, resource allocation, and the need for sustainable development models that can accommodate this shift.

The statistician general’s observation of a youthful populace, with over 71 percent under the age of 35, presents a double-edged sword.

On one hand, it signifies a vibrant, potentially innovative demographic; on the other, it highlights the looming challenge of job creation, education, and health services provision to cater to this majority.

The insights of various policy analysists elaborate on these challenges, stressing the necessity for immediate, data-driven policy responses to navigate the complexities of a growing, youthful population.

The data from the census is not just numbers; it is a serious call for action, urging a re-evaluation of current policies and the creation of new ones that are responsive to the demographic realities of Namibia.

Rural-urban migration, a direct consequence of seeking better opportunities, exacerbates the strain on urban infrastructure and services, pointing to a need for balanced development that curtails the overconcentration of resources and opportunities in urban centres.

This imbalance not only strains local authority budgets but also widens the gap between the urban and rural populace, creating disparities that can hinder national cohesion and development.

The Landless People’s Movement’s emphasis on youth empowerment and representation in governance structures is clear evidence of the critical role the youth must play in shaping the future of Namibia.

Their call for significant youth representation in leadership positions, both in politics and the economy, is not just about equity; it is about ensuring that the policies and development trajectories of the country reflect the demographics and aspirations of its majority population.

Namibia stands at a crossroads, with its youthful population offering a reservoir of potential that, if tapped into effectively, could drive sustainable development and innovation.

This, however, requires a paradigm shift in policy formulation, one that is proactive rather than reactive, and inclusive, ensuring that the voices of the youth are not just heard but are instrumental in shaping the future of the country.

The narrative of Namibia’s growth and the challenges it faces is a microcosm of the broader African dilemma – balancing rapid demographic changes with sustainable development and inclusive governance.

As the country moves toward National and Presidential elections in November, the decisions made today will undoubtedly ripple through the generations of the future.

These decisions must be informed, bold, and inclusive.

Namibia’s journey is about shaping a future that can sustainably accommodate the aspirations and needs of its growing population.

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