President Hifikepunye Pohamba last week showered praises to the Chinese for their continued investment and support to Namibia at the inauguration of mining operations at Husab Mine in the coastal area of the country.
Husab is anticipated to be the second largest uranium mine in the world upon completion and will contribute about 5% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to the economy while pumping in close to N$1.7b to the national coffers.
A further look at the Husab Mine, which is arguably the largest investment by China in any African country shows that it will create about 6000 temporary jobs and 2000 permanent jobs.
The Chinese are also working in the upgrade of the multibillion dollar Namibia Ports Authority (Namport) expansion programme.
The president’s remark come in the wake of a recent 10 day working visit to China by the Prime Minister Dr. Hage Geingob to China and also follows the announcement by the Namibian embassy in China that our export to China have risen from N$939m in 201 to N$1.4b to date.
We are largely exporting mineral and marine products to China albeit in their unrefined form.
If summed up the mentioned facts of Chinese investments in Namibia and the recent visit by the Premier who is poised to be the next President one cannot deny that China is unavoidable business partner for Namibia in the future.
In fact China which is now termed the factory of the world is an unavoidable partner to any African state in the future.
However, that as it may, Namibia as a country need to find mutually beneficial engagements with China. This will in the future make sure that in as much as the Chinese cream off billions of their investments in Namibia, we also develop and benefit from the vast Chinese market access especially now that engagements with the European Union over the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) are rather frustrating.
Namibia could find ways of creating value chains were Chinese companies operating in Namibia can do their value addition here and create jobs for Namibians.
If the Chinese process whatever Namibian products they access here locally then we surge further to the dream of having an industrialized as envisaged in Vision 2030.
We will be naïve to continue giving access to Chinese to our resources without pushing them to develop our country. We will also be short sighted if we do not take advantage of the Chinese presence in the country to improve our human capacity skills in largely technical fields that Chinese engage in.
If we tap into the Chinese as much as they tap into us, Namibia will not talk of skills deficit in the next 10 years, now will cry about growing unemployment because we certainly would have developed our industry.
Our future engagement with China should be based on the principle of brotherhood and forever be coined on the African notion that one hand washes another. Only then can we be mutual patners.