Namibia needs to consider developing a national human resources database and document citizens with the necessary qualifications and skills to take up positions at international organizations.

This is the view of a public policy analyst and international relations expert, Dr. Marius Kudumo, who says 33 years after independence, Namibia needs to increase international representation.

Namibia's quotas at international organizations such as the UN, African Union, and SADC all remain unfilled.

This is despite the country being a paid-up member of these and other multilateral bodies and being respected as a voice of reason by the international community.

The arguments during the early years of the country's independence pointed to a lack of skills, the right qualifications, and exposure for Namibians to enter the competitive international space.

This has changed over the years, but the country's quotas are still not being taken up.

For example, Namibia has more than 20 posts at the African Union, with its Head of Mission, Emilia Mkusa, saying it is unable to fill those.

"It's bad, and so far we have 25 positions but only have two permanent staff at the AU. We have the director for environment and blue economy, and we have the communications officer, who is based at one of the AU offices in Algiers. But we also have four short-term contract staff members. We have a legal associate, we have the spokesperson of the AU Commission, and we have an agricultural specialist and a health officer within the Africa CDC offices. We have been advertising these positions or sending them to headquarters."

Complacency and a lack of interest, especially among the youth, are some of the reasons Mkusa says the government has observed.

"We have a lot of Namibians who are qualified, and that's just that. It's probably true that Namibians do not want to leave Namibia. I have to explain that our legal associate was a full-time staff member of the judiciary of Namibia, and he took a bold decision to come for that position of legal associate. Our agriculture specialist used to work at SADC."

Public policy analyst, Dr Marius Kudumo, is advising the government to understand that skills are mobile, benchmarking from the European Union.

Another strategy is to expose citizens through a National Human Resources Database. 

"Because even if you have a quota, you must still compete to get in. Now, if you have a strategy and a database, your national human resources database is supposed to say what skills are available in which country, and where are they. If there is a Namibian in, say, the United States, Germany, or Gaborone, you must have them as your nationals. And when those opportunities occur, these are the people you are targeting, who are already exposed to getting into these global competitive agencies or organizations. So you can't just leave it to every ministry when vacancies arise and you send it to them to circulate to others and there's no one to manage it to say, 'This person or citizen of ours qualifies; let's encourage them to apply'."

At present, all vacancies at international organizations to which Namibia is a member are facilitated through the government.

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Blanche Goreses