Namibia’s new visa laws and the impact on talent development

What does Namibia’s visa free pilot project, and relaxed borders mean for talent development and how can businesses take advantage to promote sustainable growth?

  • Namibia introducing tourist visa on entry for some African countries
  • Namibian Minister says it’s an effort to create a united Africa where goods and services can move freely
  • Could the visa pilot project have implications for talent mobility in Africa?
  • What could free movement across borders mean for African talent in general?
  • How can Namibian corporates take advantage of the visa pilot project?

Could Africa’s transition into the ‘new EU’ be gathering steam? It seems so! Except for Eritrea, every African country is now part of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which, once implemented, will be the world’s biggest free-trade area. Additionally, projects like Namibia’s new pilot venture to issue free visas on arrival to more African countries will help catalyse more collaboration between countries. And it could start to have a positive impact on talent development and mobility across the continent.

Jim Linskey, general manager for Africa at USB-ED says, “It’s not a work visa, it’s a tourist visa, but it is still an important progression in our continent-wide need to make travel between African countries easier. The idea that more African citizens can freely come into Namibia shows the country’s commitment to what Minister Stanley Simataa calls ‘a united Africa where goods and services can move freely.’”

Linskey says that the free movement of people could transform the continent in myriad ways. “If you look at the European Union and the impact it’s had on Europe, that’s a telling example of the impact open borders can have. With one in four of the global population set to be African, we need to unite the continent and cement ourselves as a global superpower. That means capitalising on and exchanging our collective resources – including our people. Our young population is our greatest asset.”

Could the visa pilot project have a positive impact on talent mobility in Africa?

Talent mobility is a big issue, especially as skills scarcity is a problem for myriad African countries – and the world at large. Linskey adds that with specialised skillsets highly prized, we need to make it easier for talent to move in order to fill the gaps.  “Namibian businesses can take advantage of the new visa project by inviting prospective African candidates to the country for physical ‘meet and greets’. It’s this kind of gesture that could go a long way to attracting top-performers and building the diverse teams every leader is looking to prioritise.”  

What could more relaxed border control mean for corporates Namibia?

Linskey says, “With talent more easily able to relocate between counties, there’ll be even greater emphasis on collaboration and transformation. Talent ‘wars’ will also be likely as companies compete for the most in-demand specialty skills. Business leaders will need to create optimal environments where top performers want to work. And talent management strategies will need to focus on continent-wide human capital acquisition for strong succession planning.

How can Namibian corporates take advantage of the visa pilot project?

By 2050, Africa will be home to 40% of the world’s population of under 18s. That means businesses also need to focus on evolving to attract and accommodate young people from across the continent. Additionally, we need to be sensitive to the fact that Africa is not one homogenous entity, but a melting pot of culture and histories. The African Union estimates that AfCFTA will increase trade by 60% between African countries, in just three years. This calls for heightened sensitivity, training and respect. A Nigerian businessperson will operate differently to a Malawian businessperson, for example. And we need to start to understand these nuances and learn from one another. That’s where continuous learning and ongoing training play a big role.

Our countries are likely to start prioritising diversifying their economies as resources begin to deplete. That brings challenges but also opportunities. We’ll need to start moving to knowledge-based economies that identify fresh opportunities to build on the resources we have in place. For example, Namibia is dependent on minerals and meat. What if businesses spotted an opportunity to cut and polish stones as well as exporting these in raw form, for example, as suggested by my colleague, Professor Andre Roux.

What could free movement across borders mean for African talent?

We need to assess what skills our economies call for and ensure we have the capabilities we need to catalyse these outcomes. That’s a continuous upskilling process across the private and public sector. Corporates can lean on executive education to ensure that talent flowing into a business is constantly re- and upskilled in order to meet the rapidly evolving requirements of the digital age. Executive education also hones the emotional intelligence required to navigate diverse teams, break down siloes and collaborate.

It’ll be this collaboration, along with creative prowess and the ability to quickly bring contextualised-solves to real-world problems that’ll really set businesses apart. As borders open, businesses need to be consistently spotting role gaps and sourcing and grooming the key players who’ll be able to embody the innovation and ingenuity our age calls for.”

Improve your talent management and leadership skills that will encourage teams to deliver optimal results by registering to attend one of the myriad USB-ED Management Development Courses.

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