Employment-Intensive Investment in Namibia

Web page | 10 December 2014

Historical Information

Soon after gaining independence in 1990, the Government of Namibia identified employment creation as one of the primary development objectives. The country has developed an economic strategy that is multi-sectorial and focuses on labour-based employment and development.

Labour-based Infrastructure Development
To realise employment creation potential of labour-based works, the Government has developed a multi-sectorial strategy covering various sectors of the Namibian economy. The ILO was involved in stakeholder forum that drafted a national policy on multi-sectorial application of labour-based works.

In 1997, a Green Paper on labour-based works was published, as a forerunner to the draft policy. In 1999, the policy paper (White Paper) advocating wide application of labour-based works was finalised and adopted. Following the adoption of the policy paper, a stakeholder task force comprising representatives from government, employers, unions and the ILO was appointed to spearhead the formation of a statutory non-governmental body, the Labour-based Works Forum. The functions of the Forum, which was to consist of a national stakeholder’s council, a controlling board and a secretariat drawn from a pre-specified combination of professions, were:
  • to assess the potential of labour-based approaches;
  • to advise the government and other stakeholders on issues related to the application and creation of an enabling environment for labour-based approaches;
  • to harmonise standards, procedures and specification;
  • and to coordinate research, advocate, create awareness and raise funds for the promotion of the approach.
Further discussion between the task force and the Ministry of Higher Education, Training and Employment Creation has led to the establishment of a national employment creation body which focuses on all employment creation issues including the multi-sectorial application of labour-based methods.

Labour-based roadworks contractor training project
Soon after independence, the Government of Namibia identified employment creation as one of the primary development objectives and embarked on the construction and improvement of the road network in the country's northern regions. Therefore, as a part of its road development programme, the Department of Transport decided to test the viability of using labour-based methods to construct, improve and maintain part of the road network.
Between 1992 and 1996, two pilot demonstration projects were carried out, the second involving contractor training and the compilation of a draft technical guide on the use of labour-based methods for road works in Namibia.

In 1996, the Ministry of Works, Transport and Communication started the expanded phase of its labour-based programme, implemented through the private sector by way of contracts supervised by consultants. The Ministry also commenced a contractor development programme targeting retrenched Government employees. Medium sized private enterprises and NGOs have been trained and given the opportunity to execute labour-based contracts.
At the request of the Government, an ILO mission was fielded during the second half of 1999 to formulate an Employment Policy Unit, which will advise the Government on how to promote employment in mainstream investment programmes. The mission was financed by the ILO.

Further reading

  • Institutional frameworks at policy level, G. Sibanda,
    In ASIST Bulletin No. 14 (PDF 2,048 Kb), September 2002. ILO/ASIST
  • White paper on labour-based works policy
    Ministry of Works, Transport and Communication, Government of Namibia, 1999