By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK An inter-connected road and railway system running throughout Southern African countries is the long-term plan envisaged to boost regional economic growth in the near future. This is one of the major ideas in a memorandum of understanding signed at State House yesterday between President Hifikepunye Pohamba and Botswana’s President Festus Mogae. Marking the end of his three-day State visit to Namibia, the Botswana President said that the region is endowed with an abundance of coal reserves, particularly in Botswana, which reserves are now in high demand. President Mogae noted that such coal reserves would ultimately benefit downstream industries and sectors such as the links to Walvis Bay for exporting coal. “We are going to need a lot of resources to exploit that coal for transport and we need to exploit these coal reserves,” said President Mogae, adding that although the demand for coal globally has subsided the demand is high in Southern Africa. Furthermore, the Trans-Kalahari Highway remains an extremely important route for the free flow of traffic between Namibia and Botswana. Given that situation, a proposal was made that the two countries as well as South Africa endeavour to har-monise and extend the border operating hours along the corridor. At the end of the visit, the Namibian Minister of Foreign Affairs Marco Hausiku and the Botswana Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Mompati Merafhe yesterday signed a joint communiquÃƒÆ’Ã†’Ãƒâ€ ‘ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Â ‘ÃƒÆ’Ã†”Ã…Â¡ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â©. In the memorandum of understanding the two presidents expressed their full commitment to deepening the longstanding relations between the two countries. These deal with making progress in implementing the bilateral cooperation programmes in the sectors of health, trade, natural resources management, agriculture, mining, energy, tourism, education and training as well as local government. Furthermore, agreements were specifically made on availing a dry port for Botswana at Walvis Bay as well as to explore the possibility of a rail link between Botswana and Namibia. Also on the agenda was expanding the connectivity with other regions such as the West African Festoon Systems (WAFS) and in light of a looming deficit in power generation and supply, the issue of looking into cross-border electricity supply between the two countries was also under consideration. In addition, the two presidents also sought the collective drive to address the challenges of poverty and diseases like HIV/Aids, tuberculosis and malaria. At the same time both public and private sectors were called upon to engage in partnerships aimed at accelerating trade and economic growth. During his three-day State visit, President Mogae visited the Namdeb headquarters in Windhoek, officially opened the new Oshakati Town Council Civic Centre and toured the Ondangwa Railway Station. The Botswana Head of State also visited Walvis Bay for the envisaged dry port facility for Botswana and also jointly commissioned the 132kv Omaere-Ghantsi Power Sub Station. The joint communiquÃƒÆ’Ã†’Ãƒâ€ ‘ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Â ‘ÃƒÆ’Ã†”Ã…Â¡ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â© was read by Minister of Foreign Affairs Marco Hausi- ku.
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