Namibia and South Africa, two neighbors who share a long tradition of friendship, should strive to further enhance win-win cooperation and herald a new chapter for bilateral ties.
These were the sentiments expressed this week when the Namibian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) together with Wesgro, the official Tourism and Investment Promotion Agency for Cape Town and Western Cape (South Africa) held a business networking seminar in Windhoek aimed at boosting trade partnerships between South African and Namibian companies.
Currently, Namibia and South Africa are both following a path of reform and development.
While South Africa is heading towards its ambitious goals of building a first world society in all aspects, Namibia is aiming to build a strong, democratic and civilized modern industrialized nation by 2030 through its Vision 2030 programme.
The two countries therefore need to work together to deepen cooperation to create the right conditions for their mutual development.
South Africa has been Namibia’s biggest trading partner since independence.
In fact, Namibia and South Africa are natural partners with complementary economies.
To illustrate, Namibia’s currency is pegged to South Africa’s and both form part of the Southern African Customs Union(SACU).
A huge chunk of Namibia’s revenue comes from SACU.
Namibia is in great need of infrastructure development, while South Africa have abundant resources in infrastructure construction, including capital, technology, personnel and experience to share.
South African companies have over the years driven the growth in Namibia, especially before the arrival of Chinese firms in the construction sector.
Michael Gamwo, Wesgro representative and Head of South African Business Delegation to Namibia said: “The trade promotion side is about promoting two way trade which are Western Cape and African countries, in this case Namibia is one of our key partner. This reason for this mission is to bring business people from South Africa so that they can look at investment to trade in this country.”
Gamwo acknowledged the essence of doing business with Namibia as a win-win situation in the sense that, it helps the receiving country to grow and create employment opportunities.
Namibia’s unemployment rate recently increased to 34% in 2016 from 28% in 2014.
Namibia’s Investment Protection Act guarantees protection and freedom to remit capital and profits to all foreign investors.
With the imports totalling US$834,000,000 during 2016, Namibia is the biggest export market for Western Cape.
However, the trade deficit has been proportionally in favour of the Western Cape with Namibian products exported to that region totalling just over US$171,000,000 in 2016.
Namibian products are exported to Western Cape include meat, beer, sea food and fire wood.
Speaking at the same occasion, NCCI acting Chief Executive Officer, Charity Mwiya said, “our trade trends with South Africa is inappropriate in the sense that, we are more of importing country than exporting and when all the economic hardships come in, we get hurt since we not have foreign reserves.
“Let us use this chance to identify numerous opportunities in different sectors like mining, fishing and manufacturing to strengthen business relations with South Africa,” she said.
Moreover, Mwiya noted the importance of regional integration and that of Namibia as a gateway to other business markets because of the sea port in Walvis Bay.
The South African business delegation is made up of more than 15 companies, are divided into various sectors namely: Tourism and Hospitality, Manufacturing, Logistics, Mining, Construction, Pharmaceutical, Education, Food, Consulting and Engineering.
Namibia is a member of the Southern African Customs Union (SACU), which serves to harmonise customs regimes of Namibia, South Africa and other regional countries.
For this reason, there is no tariff barrier among SACU members, while imports from the rest of the world are charged a common external tariff and a common tax.
This is not the first time Namibia engage with South Africa in business relations, 23 years after independence and to this day, the economy of Namibia is closely connected to South Africa.
The South African Rand is legal currency in Namibia, while the Namibian dollar is not in the former’s currencies system.
Last year, South African President, Jacob Zuma and President Hage Geingob led and directed various Committees under the Bi-National Commission to expand and speed implementation on bilateral cooperation between these two countries.