Deputy finance minister shields Chinese... condemns the West
Amidst growing suspicion of the Namibia-Chinese relations, the deputy minister of finance Natangwe Ithete said the hatred by western countries of the country’s economic cooperation with Eastern countries has to be condemned.
The minister was addressing the business community and fund managers at last week’s Namibia Asset Owners and Managers Forum held in the capital.
Natangue’s condemnation of the West also comes in the wake of leaked documents which exposed that the Chinese had given a proposal to the economic planning minister Obeth Kandjoze and finance minister Calle Schlettwein for funding the Hosea Kutako International Airport.
The secretive nature of the conversation between the Chinese ambassador Zhang Yiming and the minister was bashed by the Affirmative Repositioning.
Yet in spite of this, Natangue bashed western countries for being the same people that had “historically exploited and disadvantaged us” and for wanting to be Namibia’s sudden protectors from the East.
“Are they protecting us or their own interests in Africa? We had partnered with the West before and the results were not very promising,” said the deputy minister.
Interestingly, recent reports are that in spite of increasing volumes of Chinese financing to Africa the International Monetary Fund (IMF), was making a comeback to the continent.
“In 2014, before the surge in Chinese finance after the 2015 Forum on China-Africa Co-operation (FOCAC) summit, 15 African countries had IMF loans, worth a total of $5.39-billion.”
“Today it’s 20 countries with loans totalling $15.4-billion. And more debt-stricken countries like Angola, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and the Republic of the Congo are knocking at the IMF’s door,” reported the Daily Maverick.
Meanwhile, Natangue said it was encouraging to note that pension funds and the investment management industry as a whole on the continent were growing and had the financial muscle to invest in large projects.
He also lauded fund managers for making infrastructure projects the focal point of their investments, making a significant break-away from the tradition of primarily investing in local fixed income bonds.
As a whole, Natangue said pension funds in Africa were estimated to be sitting on US$334 in assets with Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa and Botswana holding about 90% of these.
“This reality is paired with good governance, sustainable peace, and stability, therefore making us a lucrative market. I, therefore, challenge local fund managers to localise their funds and for foreign investors to come on board as direct investors,” he told the forum.
Meanwhile, the local economy is ailing and the deputy minister said the only way out was to leverage on foreign direct investment which brings along new knowledge, techniques, and technology.