Namibia, Botswana Captains of Industry Challenged to Achieve Common Developmental Objectives

The construction of a railway line to export Botswana coal to world markets via Namibia. The desalination of seawater for human consumption and to sustain business needs. The development of electricity-generating capacity for own consumption, as well as for export; and the development of regional value chains in manufacturing. These are some of the areas of mutual interest for Namibia and Botswana where President Hage Geingob challenged captains of industry to become involved in stimulating development and achieving common developmental objectives.

Speaking at the official opening of the Botswana-Namibia Business Seminar in Gaborone on Monday, Geingob said: "Through our own resources, as well as tapping into our regional developmental finance institutions and global initiatives such as the Green Climate Fund, we must find solutions for our common challenges."

"The fairly robust and diversified economies of Botswana and Namibia may be relatively small in terms of population size but can still play a crucial leadership role in the New Africa. It is my wish that the event here today will create a conducive platform for captains of industry of our two nations, where in the spirit of Harambee we embark on joint national initiatives such as water and energy security to put both nations on a higher, sustainable shared growth trajectory," said Geingob, who is on an official state visit to Botswana that is scheduled until today.

During his address to captains of industry and high-ranking government officials in Gaborone, Geingob noted that not only do Botswana and Namibia have sound democratic governance architectures in place, but also that their economies are well managed by all standards.

"Both our countries have low levels of debt exposure, in particular foreign debt, and both Botswana and Namibia form part of a handful of African economies that can boast investment grade ratings by international rating agencies such as Fitch and Moody's," said Geingob.

While Namibia is rated BBB-positive, for Botswana Moody's set the credit rating higher at A2 with a stable outlook, in part because Botswana has the highest import coverage on the continent and one of the highest in the world.

"Moreover, your growth trajectory over the past four decades has been phenomenal. Luckily enough you are our neighbour - otherwise, based on your growth trajectory alone, one could easily have mistaken you for one of the South East Asian Tigers. The prudent and disciplined way in which you have managed your economy has paid off. Fixed capital formation has been remarkable and one can safely say that the Botswana today and the Botswana at independence are miles apart. Forever gone are the days that Gaborone was referred to as a cattle post. I commend and salute you on this excellent progress," Geingob stated.

Geingob elaborated that he considers his visit to Namibia's eastern neighbour as an opportunity to renew and strengthen the existing good bilateral relations between the two countries. "I am here to tell you that Namibia is open for business and would like to see more trade and investment between Botswana and Namibia. In addition to a peaceful political environment, a stable macroeconomic climate, and a world-class financial system, Namibia offers a plethora of investment opportunities for international investors. It is my desire that in the spirit of regional economic integration, investors from Botswana will fully participate in the opportunities that Namibia offers," said Geingob.

He noted that investors from Botswana have a head start as the two nations are already cooperating in numerous areas of economic and social development. Botswana, after South Africa, is Namibia's most important African trading partner. Last year Namibia exported diamonds worth more than US$1 billion to Botswana.

Some projects that the two countries have jointly undertaken over the past few years include the Trans-Kalahari Highway and the establishment of dry port facilities for Botswana at the port of Walvis Bay. "It is gratifying to see that increasingly more Motswanas have started to use the Trans-Kalahari Highway to come and spend their December holidays at the coast in Namibia. This shows that it was not only trade and investment that was stimulated by this important corridor, but also movement of people," Geingob noted.

Source: New Era