A lot has been said about President Hage Geingob’s trip to the USA, where he is to, amongst others, address the 71st session of United Nations General Assembly.
Many have questioned the timing of the President’s leaving the country for 24 days in what some consider a time of crisis, coupled with a looming teachers’ strike and Fitch’s downgrade of our economic outlook from stable to negative.
In their wisdom, the President should have cut his US trip short so that he attends to the problems at home. In fact, many feel the President should have just gone to deliver his speech on September 21 and return home right away.
What have not come out of the critics’ narrative, however, are the spin-offs the country stands to gain from the busy engagements of Geingob and his entourage in the USA – the global capital of investment and entrepreneurship.
On September 22, for instance, Geingob is scheduled to deliver a keynote address at the Namibia Investment Forum, which is a curtain raiser for the main investment conference in Windhoek in November.
Currently, the whole world has its eyes glued on Washington and New York. Therefore any nation that is worth its salt – and which has a sense of economic diplomacy – cannot afford to be absent from such occasions.
Just a few months ago, Namibia revamped its foreign policy. In fact the policy has been re-christened to ‘international relations’ because in the global village we live in, nothing is foreign anymore.
This is the time to put to test this policy and see if it speaks to our nation’s aspirations or needs fine-tuning to perfect it towards what we really want it to be. America in September is the ideal platform to have our envisaged new policy tested.
From a global perspective, Namibia is a small nation. A stable, democratic small country with a small population and a small economy.
Sadly, the world does not know much about us. In fact the world would not come to us – at least not in the volumes we would want. The onus is therefore upon us to reach out to the world and announce our existence and all that we have to offer.
Therefore, the principle of the US trip and all that is lined up over its duration is good, if not exciting. It is now up to the team in America to make it count in real terms. Back home the nation expects tangible results and a quick manifestation of the outcome of the ongoing engagements.
Whether the trip and its perceived length were necessary and justified would depend on its end results. Namibia needs marketing and investment. Namibia needs to grow its economy in order to stimulate jobs. Government cannot continue to be the answer to providing jobs – the private sector must come to the party.
Our pursuit of large-scale investment to create new markets and grow the economy has to gain considerable international attention and buy-in. The team in America must unlock that potential.