These are notes on the media briefing of 09 September 2016 by President Hage Geingob on the eve of his departure to the US. The briefing also details the President’s scheduled activities in that country.
The President spent over an hour on several current issues of national importance, primarily the nationwide ballot being conducted on whether teachers would engage in a nationwide strike or not, and concerns raised around the recent Fitch ratings of the economy and its implications. The Head of State provided details of the trip to the USA from 10 September with a final engagement on the 28th of September 2016.
President Geingob will be on official business to the United States of America – he departed on 10 September – allowing for travel across the Atlantic with a mandatory rest for crew in Cape Verde for eight hours, resulting in two days of travel (four days in total, including his return trip).
The final engagement is a public lecture at Harvard University on 28 September. President Geingob will return thereafter to Namibia.
The President said significant efforts were made at cost savings on this trip by, amongst others, reducing the total delegation size to a maximum of 33 people (inclusive of security detail) all of whom will not be travelling at the same time or be in the US at all times.
Delegates, including Cabinet ministers, would arrive and leave for home as and when they are required. Other than joining the President on some of his official engagements, the Cabinet ministers have their own invitations such as to AGOA or the UN committees in their own formal capacities. To that end they will thus not be travelling with the President all times.
The President chose cheaper alternative accommodation in a modest apartment at a cost of US$1166 (N$16 743 as of yesterday) per night compared to the Waldorf Astoria where suitable accommodation would have costed US$10 000 (N$143 600) per night.
It is worth noting that accommodation in Manhattan becomes prohibitively limited and thus expensive during the annual UN General Assembly dates, he said.
Reduction in crew costs associated with flying the President to the Americas was also effected. It is conventional practice that two sets of crews would be required to fly the President with an advance crew positioned halfway on the trip two days ahead of arrival at a refueling stopover incurring commercial flight, S&T and hotel costs.
State House said in order to reduce S&T, hotel and commercial flight costs of a second crew, the President chose to travel with one crew and allow them to undertake the mandatory rest for eight hours en route (as dictated by international aviation rules).
“This will be a packed programme of high-level engagements both at the UN and on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly with bilateral discussions requested by many world leaders, the North American business sector and academia,” presidential press secretary Albertus Aochamub said.
So, what’s happening this week?
On Tuesday, 13 September, the 71st session of United Nations General Assembly opened, which the President and First Lady Monica Geingos were scheduled to attend.
0The President was also scheduled to officiate at a major forum organised by the Constituency for Africa (CFA) that will set the agenda for the next US American Administration on Africa-US Investment and Trade relations.
0CFA is a successful lobby group on key trade relations with the continent for the past 25 years. They are hosting a forum in Washington DC this week that will be attended by leading congressmen and women and senators across party divide, scholars, students and the public.
0Yesterday, 14 September, President Geingob was scheduled to be the keynote speaker on behalf of Africa at the CFA 2016 Ronald H. Brown African Affairs Series at a roundtable session entitled: “Increasing US-Africa Trade and Investment.”
0Also yesterday, at 14:30 to 15:30 local time in Washington DC, President Geingob was scheduled to be a special guest on the Voice of America (VOA) Live Show called “Straight Talk Africa”, hosted by a leading broadcaster Shaka Ssali and entitled “A conversation with the Namibian President Hage Geingob.”
0NBC has been offered to carry the feed live for all Namibians to share in the discussion.
0At 16:00, President Geingob will also conduct a recorded media interview with Bloomberg Media, stating Namibia’s case as an investment destination and as a hub and entry point to SADC.
0This recording is also a critical component of the US-Africa Business Forum to be jointly hosted by the US Department of Commerce and Bloomberg Philanthropies in New York City next week. President Geingob will be an important guest at that occasion as well.
0Today, 15 September, at the University of George Washington Elliott School of International Relations, President Geingob is again invited to address the Africa Policy Forum and co-chair that meeting of key policymakers, scholars, students and the general public.
And next week?
Geingob will be guest at the Clinton Global Coalition Annual Convention, guest of President Barrack Obama at the official annual dinner and deliver his formal address to the UN General Assembly on 21 September.
He will also deliver the keynote address at the Namibia Investment Forum on 22 September, which is a curtain raiser for the main Investment Conference in Windhoek in November.
After that the President and the ministers of mines and energy, finance, home affairs, labour and industrial relations, economic planning and industrialisation, trade and SME development will field questions as part of a panel discussion.
Namibian businesspersons accompanying the President will also conduct one-on-one meetings with their American counterparts.
From the Namibian side, the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) will be led by its current president Sven Thieme who will also officiate at the business forum as part of the panel discussion.
In recognition of the increasingly important role that the President plays across Africa and in world affairs, Ivy League universities of Columbia (Monday 26 September) and Harvard (Wednesday 28 September) have invited President Geingob to address an audience of scholars, students and the general public on his vision of a new Africa.