WINDHOEK – Chinese ambassador-designate to Namibia, Xin Shunkang, says bilateral two-way trade volumes between China and Namibia ballooned to U$700 million last year.
In 2009, trade between the two countries reached US$600 million compared to the US$75 million in imports and exports recorded in 2003 between Namibia and the People’s Republic of China.
Shunkang made the announcement during a press conference on Friday. He said the Chinese government intends to build 1300 classrooms across Namibia to help curtail the classroom shortage that has seen some learners being taught under trees, especially in the rural areas.
Since his arrival in Namibia on July 27, Shunkang has met with 10 Namibian ministers, including the Minister of Education, Dr Abraham Iyambo, last week, who, according to the ambassador, indicated Namibia’s need for classrooms as well as the need to train Namibian personnel as technicians.
“I will ask the Chinese government for support to send Chinese professors to Namibian [universities] for training courses,” he said.
Shunkang, who was the Chinese ambassador to Zimbabwe for the last three years, indicated that he hoped to have monthly meetings with Iyambo for progress on the way forward. Iyambo was not immediately available for comment by the time of going to print.
The ambassador further reiterated Chinese President Hu Jintao’s pledge of U$20 billion preferential credit line to 50 African countries to develop infrastructure, agriculture, manufacturing, and small and medium-sized enterprises.
During the Fifth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) on 19 and 20 July this year, Jintao proposed a series of new measures in five priority areas to boost China-African ties, one of which is the building of more agricultural technology demonstration centres to help African countries increase food production capacity.
“It will implement the ‘African Talents Programme’ to train 30 000 personnel in various sectors for Africa, offer 18 000 government scholarships, and build cultural and vocational skills training facilities in African countries,” Jintao was reported saying at the FOCAC summit.
The ambassador emphasized his desire to help Namibia overcome its development challenges, including economic security, sustainable development, as well as deepening medical and health cooperation among others.
According to Shunkang, 900 patients in Zimbabwe had their eyesight improved thanks to imported Chinese doctors. “I want to do the same for Namibia,” he said. Information Officer at the Chinese Embassy in Namibia, Yang Zuohang, confirmed that approximately 6000 Chinese health professionals are located across Africa among them nurses and medical doctors.
“We [China] can do more for medical cooperation and other fields like science, technology and introduce capable doctors and professors to Namibia,” said the Ambassador-designate. He further stressed that Namibia should make full use of China’s financial support to the country.
The Deputy Minister of Health and Social Services, Petrina Haingura, welcomed the offer, emphasizing that Namibia is lacking skilled personnel, specifically in gynaecology, surgery and obstetrics.
She welcomed the signing of a Memorandum of Understandings between the two governments on these issues. Haingura added that the ministry would welcome any additional equipment or machinery to assist in eye surgery or the removal of cataracts in Namibia.
Shunkang said a Chinese delegation visited Namibia last month to do a quality investigation on Namibian meat products. Another quality-testing delegation is expected to come to Namibia this week according to the ambassador. This follows an agreement signed by Namibia and China on the export of meat products.
“The quality of beef in Namibia is excellent and this is known by the Chinese government,” he said, adding that this particular trade will be his preferential task during his run as ambassador in Namibia. “I want to push forward this project,” he said.
Other benefits Namibia can look forward to with its relationship with China include the enhancement of agriculture, nuclear energy, housing manufacturing, as well as the fisheries and mining industries among others.
However, Shunkang made it clear that China is only interested in working with Namibia in win-win situations, where both countries benefit. With regard to labour relations, Shunkang reiterated that he would address Chinese companies in Namibia to treat locals with respect and as equals in order to be welcomed in the communities as well as to enjoy enduring strategic cooperation.
He was responding to allegations from Namibian employees on low salaries and poor work relations. The Ambassador also undertook to hold regular media briefings on bilateral trade and political ties between Namibia and China.