By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK Namibia remains one of the top business partners with neighbouring South Africa, which strengthens the two countries’ trade ties as well as foster intra-regional trade. With such a beneficial working relationship between Southern African neighbours, intra-regional trade will in the long run allow developing countries like Namibia to stand on their own feet. In an interview with New Era yesterday, South African High Commissioner to Namibia Timothy Maseko said that trade relations and cooperation links have always existed between the two countries. This is particularly evident through the ties South Africa has with the ministries of Trade, Agriculture, Health, Science and Technology. Maseko explained further that South Africa remains today the biggest foreign investor in Namibia due to the long historical colonialties. “I am happy that we are providing the goods needed by the citizens of this country. Ideally the businesses of Namibians should be run by Namibians themselves and the greater part of the companies have to become national, but this will change over time,” he noted, adding that for now trade cooperation should continue. In this light he dismissed common perceptions that South Africa is the dominant Big Brother wanting to control the rest of Africa, saying that this is not the case but rather a process of stimulating intra-regional trade. “It’s a two-way flow,” he said. As a region there is also a general growing trend and awareness of African governments to work towards a common goal of economic freedom from the outside world through instruments like the South African Customs Union (SACU) and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). “Why should we depend on the outside world, why not do our own things together,” he wanted to know. The SACU revenue Namibia got during the 2005/6 financial year amounted to N$3.7 billion and N$4.2 billion in the 2004/5 financial year, while the two previous financial years saw revenues amounting to N$3 billion and N$2.5 billion respectively. Politically both Namibia and South Africa were the last two countries to attain democratic rule in 1990 and 1994 respectively. Since then, strong ties developed in mining, fishing and foreign relations. Lately, the main challenge facing the sub-region is the shortage of power in the near future. However, big projects like the Kudu Gas Project and the prospective Inga Project in the Congo are seen as remedies for such a shortfall. On this issue, the South African High Commissioner said that the economy of Africa is endowed with lots of energy as it has huge coal reserves ready to be tapped for economic growth for the region. “We do have the coal reserves so all our leaders can do is access the funding for these projects from international bodies,” he added. Besides Namibia and South Africa, other states like Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zimbabwe are also involved in the Inga Project. At the military level, both Namibia and South Africa have been exchanging military officials for study courses.
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