By Emma Kakololo
South African Minister of Trade and Industry, Mandisi Mpahlwa, has likened Southern Africa’s spatial development initiatives (SDIs) to the United States’ Marshall Plan of 1947.
The Marshall Plan was a primary arrangement by the United States to rebuild and create a strong foundation for the allied countries of Europe, and repel communism after World War II.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the two-day Walvis Bay Spatial Development Initiative (WBSDI)/Namibia International Investment Conference, Mpahlwa said transport corridors were the living reality of integration.
“It is in essence trans-border and trans-country. It promotes linkages that will become the life-blood of integration. It means that the fundamental platform for moving our goods and related services quickly and efficiently across borders will be established,” he stated.
The SDI methodology was developed in 1996 as an integrated planning tool aimed at promoting investment in regions of the country that were underdeveloped but had potential for growth.
In 2000, both governments funded the Walvis Bay Spatial Development Initiative (WBSDI), which closely mirrors the Maputo Corridor, which stretches from Gauteng in South Africa to the port of Maputo.
The WBSDI has since been expanded to include the Trans-Caprivi Highway, which proceeds from Walvis Bay to Katima-Mulilo and the Trans-Kunene which links Walvis Bay to Ruacana, with Walvis Bay as the nodal point.
“As we collectively deepened our knowledge of the potential economic outcomes it became clear that the geographic scope of the Walvis Bay SDI should be widened to include the Trans-Caprivi links to Zambia and the Trans-Kunene links to Angola,” said Mpahlwa.
The WBSDI has already attracted investors and brought development to the respective countries, he said.
“This is a vision that has moved beyond plans and commitments and we have good reasons to believe that the business case for success in Namibia is sound.
He urged prospective investors by quoting Mao Zedong founder of the People’s Republic of China and most prominent Communist theoreticians: “If you want to know the taste of a pear, you must change the pear by eating it yourself.”
“In other words, all genuine knowledge originates in direct experience. I urge you to experience investment in Africa for yourself.”