Namibia and Angola finally commenced the long awaited currency agreement for Oshikango and Santa Clara border posts last Thursday.
The commencement ceremony took place at Oshikango border post.
The conversion agreement which facilitates the usage of the two currencies is viewed as a milestone of greater economic interaction between Namibia and Angola by enhancing trade and strengthening economic relations. It allows reciprocal conversion of the Namibian dollar and the Angolan kwanza at the border towns of Oshikango on the Namibian side and Santa Clara on the Angolan side.
Signing the official commencement were the Governor of the Bank of Namibia Ipumbu Shiimi and his counterpart, Jose Pedro De Morais, Governor of Banco National de Angola (Central Bank of Angola).
In his speech Shiimi said Namibia and Angola owe it to themselves to work hard to improve the capacity of their economies through strengthening trade and investment relations. He maintained that the initiative by the two countries is a step in the right direction because it opens the doors of socio-economic opportunities for both.
“While the relationship between our two countries is solidified by our common political struggle, this milestone lays another foundation rock for a new era of socio-economic cooperation between our two nations,” said Shiimi.
He said there is a need for Africans to knock down barriers to trade and make transportation and payment systems supportive of trade.
The next decade, according to him, could prove to be an extraordinary period for Africa, thus it is time for African countries to work together to produce an environment capable of supporting wealth creation and social cohesion across the continent.
“Ask yourself why can’t Namibia import oil, fruits and timber from Angola. Often we know what we need to do to make that happen, but what we sometimes lack is the will to act on time. However, we know we have to break down barriers that stand in the way of trade and integration.
“Angola and Namibia should for example streamline customs procedures to cut down on waiting time at the borders for those who transport goods between our two countries. Why can’t we make Santa Clara/Oshikango a one-stop border area?” Shiimi said.
The Governor of Ohangwena Region Usko Nghaamwa who also addressed the ceremony maintained that implementation of the currency conversion agreement brings a new era for the people of both Angola and Namibia, particularly for those travelling through Oshikango and Santa Clara border posts.
Nghaamwa commended Bank of Namibia and Banco Nacional de Angola for their commitment towards creating a better business environment for both Namibian and Angolan nationals
“As Africans, we need to unite and win the economic struggle to achieve prosperity. Agreements such as these have to be considered for SADC and other regions for us to attain the goal of regional economic integration,” said Nghaamwa.
Cunene Province Governor Antonio Didalelwa commended the two countries for the sound business initiative and urged the two central banks to consider implementing currency conversion at all border posts between Namibia and Angola.
He said the border between Namibia and Angola covers a distance of over 460km along which a number of border towns and settlements are shared.
He said the population of Cunene Region, which borders the two countries on the Angolan side, is over one million people according to the 2011 population census.
Didalelwa thus empasised that more people including business people and government officials would benefit from the initiative if it is extended to all border centres between Namibia and Angola.