Prime Minister Hage Geingob’s official visit to China characterised much of Government activity this week.
According to reports from the Asian giant, his engagements with China on the political and economic front, was a resounding success, considering the country is still trying to lure foreign investors into the country.
What happened locally, however, contradicts the whole essence of Government’s engagement with the international business sector, especially at a higher level where Geingob took time to meet various Chinese investors.
Defence Minister and former Premier, Nahas Angula speaking in Parliament last week, blasted the role of foreign business in the country’s mining sector, calling for the repossession of Namibian minerals and funding of local institutions, to ensure the country’s wealth is enjoyed by its citizens.
Nahas expressed his discontent with the fact that locals do not get the value of our minerals. We do not own our minerals, yet these so-called royalties are peanuts, he said last Tuesday.
Now one wonders; before he uttered this statement, was he aware Debmarine, a 50:50 joint venture between his Government and global miner, De Beers, had contributed over $2.6b in taxes and ‘peanut’ royalties?
One would have forgiven him, thinking it was a once-off statement but he went on to attack the global policy, of incentivising any would-be investor.
“I can tell you when I look at our budget in terms of revenue, I am disappointed. The resources of Africa are a common heritage of all Africans. We give incentives to investors to exploit us”.
Technocrats in Government who organised the PM’s trip to China knew what they were doing by incorporating his engagement with local business in the country.
Could global trade data, which shows China-Africa trade totalled more than $200b in 2013 have anything to do with it and their interest in Namibia, also benefiting from it, have anything to do with it?
Chinese direct investment into Africa has grown by 44%, according to the Asian country’s figures.
But China-Africa trade has boomed in line with the Asian country’s rise to become the world’s second-biggest economy, which has been accompanied by a thirst for African natural resources to help fuel its growth.
With all this information at its disposal, Government officials who work tirelessly behind the scenes, found themselves banging their heads against the wall, wondering why a senior Government official would recklessly utter such statements - worse still, in Parliament - when it is trying so hard to lure investors, especially in the extractive sector, which will possible drive us to attain Vision 2030.
According to global legal consultancy group, Freshfileds Bruckhaus Deringer over the last decade, Africa has emerged as a prime investment destination for global businesses, seeking merger and acquisitions (M&A) opportunities and with the right investor friendly policies, Namibia could find itself on the receiving end of some deals.
The value of African inward investment, according to the firm, has tripled in the last ten years reaching more than N$1820b while deal volumes have doubled and now stand at a total of 2 417.
It notes international investors now account for half of the total value of African M&A, completing 255 deals worth N$200b, out of a total of N$395b and 758 deals in 2012. This is up from N$64bn and 122 deals in 2003.
Collectively, N$876b across 1 190 deals, has been invested in natural resources over the last ten years, it stated.
Just to inform those who might be ignorant to the fact; Namibia does require foreign investors to grow its economy!
What should also be noted is; when an investor seeks to pump in their money into any project, conditions will be set. After all, it is their money and they know you need it!