By Petronella Sibeene
Namibia and Zambia on Tuesday afternoon signed two Memoranda of Understanding (MoU), one on the establishment of a Dry Port Facility at Walvis Bay and the other on Political Conservation.
Namibian Minister of Foreign Affairs Marco Hausiku and Zambian Minister of Mines Kalombo Mwansa signed the MoU on Political Conservation, while Minister of Transport and Communication Joel Kaapanda with Mwansa signed the other MoU.
Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa and President Hifikepunye Pohamba witnessed the signing ceremony.
The Dry Port Facility at Walvis Bay will be used to facilitate the export of goods to and from Zambia through the Walvis Bay port.
President Mwanawasa commended the Namibian government for providing land to the Zambian government for the establishment of a dry port in Namibia.
On economic relations, he said Zambia treats agriculture as the number one priority sector to drive its economy forward, hence the establishment of the Joint Technical Committee to investigate the possibility of setting up the Zambia/Namibia Agriculture Joint Venture.
He however expressed disappointment over the number of years that had elapsed since the committee was established without the actual project taking off the ground.
The governments have spent more than US$100 million on feasibility studies on this project.
Once the project is implemented, it would enhance food security, create employment, generate income and stimulate economic growth in the two countries and the region as a whole.
He assured the Namibian government that the New Deal Government is committed towards the speedy and successful completion of the project and would do everything possible to facilitate the commencement of the project.
On investment and trade, Mwanawasa observed that trade between the two countries had increased the past years, adding that there was need for Zambia and Namibia to increase the volume of trade by putting more efforts towards facilitating trade.
He said the Joint Trade and Investment Committee to facilitate and coordinate cooperation in the area of trade between the two countries was set up under the general framework of the Zambia/Namibia Joint Permanent Commission (JPC).
The Zambian president commended the two governments for the efforts made under the general framework of the JPC of Cooperation towards the harmonisation of customs and immigration procedures, rules and regulations.
He said the cooperation would lead to an improvement in the processes and systems in facilitating legitimate trade in the two countries and the region at large.
Since 1990, Namibia and Zambia have had seven sessions of the Joint Permanent Commission of Cooperation and eleven sessions of the Joint Permanent Commissions on Defence and Security. The 12th session is scheduled for 27-28 March 2007.
Namibia and Zambia have been working together on different projects including Zambia’s continued supply of electricity to the town of Katima Mulilo.
Cooperating within the framework of the Zambia-Namibia Joint Agricultural project to ensure sustainable food security between the two countries is also being developed.
Pohamba said there was an urgent need to put a joint mechanism in place to manage and control the recurrent floods that have negatively affected all countries located along the Zambezi.