By: Mauricia Koopman
Executive Director of the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Ambassador Penda Naanda yesterday said it is crucial to turn the potential of both material and human resources between Namibia and South into bankable and practical actions.
This, he said, can positively change the living conditions of both countries’ citizens, stressing that this is the challenge before both countries.
Naanda echoed these words during the opening of the 3rd Session of the Namibia-South Africa Bi-National Commission meetings of senior officials, which is set to run until Thursday.
He said the two countries have signed over 90 bilateral agreements and memoranda of understanding, covering a wide range of sectors, making it the highest number of memoranda that Namibia has signed with any bilateral partner in the world.
He further said with Namibia’s currency continuing to be pegged to the South African rand, the southerly neighbour has the highest number of companies doing business in Namibia.
The three-day event is meant to prepare the ground for the Ministerial and Presidential segments, to take place in due course.
According to Naanda, since the first session held in 2012, the platform has been serving as vital instrument to exchange views on issues of mutual interest and concern at the regional and multilateral fora.
“I urge all of us to redouble our efforts to ensure that we clear all the backlogs and come up with concrete and practical plans of action to revitalise our cooperation, to recommend to our respective principals,” Naanda urged.
He said during the meetings plenty of issues of mutual interest and concerns will be taken into consideration to promote economic growth and sustainable development for both countries and contribute to the realisation of the SADC Regional Integration Agenda, the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Naanda emphasised that the discussions will be focused and action-orientated to make positive changes for the lives of the peoples of the two countries, while at the same time broaden the bilateral cooperation programme.
Meanwhile, Economist Salomo Hei says that South Africa is Namibia’s biggest partner on both imports and exports, as South Africa is also the biggest trader within the SACU community.
“Namibia doesn’t have a big production capacity and does not have a manufacturing base but can definitely make use of the South African market to push our products into the market,” Hei stated.
“It is a matter of appetite from the Namibian companies that need to be bold and aggressive and compete with the South African companies.”
The session is co-chaired by Ambassador Naanda, and the Director General of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa, Zane Dangor.