By Petronella Sibeene
The Zambian High Commission in Windhoek celebrated the 43rd anniversary of that country’s independence on Wednesday. Zambia became independent on October 24 1964.
High Commissioner to Namibia Griffin Nyirongo projected that a two-way trade between his country and Namibia is likely to grow in the next few months.
According to Nyirongo, with the creation of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Free Trade Area 2008, there is no doubt that trade volumes between the two countries will surpass that of last year.
Last year, Namibia’s exports to Zambia were valued at US$6.86 million while Zambia’s exports to Namibia were valued at US$9.58 million.
He added that although Zambia was ranked among one of the Least Developed Countries (LDC) in terms of foreign direct investment inflows, by the end of this year the country ‘s investments are likely to reach the US$1.5 billion mark. In the past nine months, the country recorded US$1 billion worth of direct foreign investment.
The huge investments recorded in the past few years, Nyirongo added, have largely been due to development and expansion in mining, agriculture, tourism and construction.
“Zambia is posed to regain her position as a major copper producer and processor. Zambia is equally posed to become the grain basket of the Southern African Region,” Nyirongo optimistically stated.
Last year, the High Commissioner offered Namibia the opportunity to import maize from Zambia. Although he could not indicate how many tonnes Zambia would be able to export to Namibia, the High Commissioner announced that the offer has been accepted. In recent years, that country exported its surplus crop to other countries.
Nyirongo assured a continued consolidation of economic relations between the two countries.
He made the remarks at a ceremony on Wednesday where some members of the Zambian community in Namibia, diplomats and government officials gathered at his residence to reminisce about the freedom enjoyed from the time the British colonial forces were declared defeated to date.
In attendance were senior diplomats, ministers, and other prominent members of society.
This year, the Independence Day was commemorated under the theme “Forging a Common Future Anchored on National Pride and Sustainable Development through Citizens’ Participation”.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Marco Hausiku said history will always remind Namibians of the many sacrifices made by Zambians for the liberation struggles of Africa.
“Namibians in their thousands found sanctuary and received all-round support in your country during that time. We continue to appreciate that it was in Zambia that institutions of training and research were set up…this is the foundation upon which our bilateral relations were built,” said the minister.
Hausiku encouraged the peoples of Namibia and Zambia to utilize to mutual benefit the infrastructural projects such as the Trans-Caprivi Highway, the Katima Mulilo-Sesheke Bridge and the Livingstone-Sesheke Road.
The minister added that the dry dock project, which facilitates the transportation of goods to Zambia, will soon be supplemented by a one-stop border post system at Namibia-Zambia crossing points.
The minister expressed Namibia’s indebtedness to Zambia for availing a football coach who has led the country’s national team, the Brave Warriors, to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations to take place in Ghana 2008.
“I would like to encourage our young people to seek out further ways of interacting through cultural and sports activities. In this way, we will maintain the warm relations developed when so many Namibians of older generation were living in Zambia,” he said.