Windhoek-President Hage Geingob, addressing the Burj CEO Summit in London yesterday, said Britain’s exit from the European Union presents an opportunity for African countries, such as Namibia.
“While many have viewed Brexit with regret and trepidation, we would like to view Brexit as an opportunity for the United Kingdom and Africa to reshape a longstanding and historic relationship,”
“So, rather than be pessimistic about Brexit, we are optimistic and see Brexit as an opportunity for the proliferation of enhanced and mutually beneficial partnerships between the UK and African states.”he said during his address to the members of Britain’s House of Lords and business delegates.
President Geingob, who is expected back in the country tonight ahead of the crunch Swapo politburo meeting tomorrow, was the only African head of state invited to address the summit.
“I am honoured by the invitation extended to me to be part of this august gathering and share this platform with you. Not only am I here to represent the Republic of Namibia, but also Africa. It is a new Africa, an Africa which is on the march,” he told his audience.
“We have entered into Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with the EU, but Brexit offers an opportunity for us to engage in bilateral negotiations with the UK regarding trade opportunities.”
The president used the opportunity to reinforce the view that the Africa of yesteryear, often characterised by coups, conflict and extreme corruption, was a thing of the past.
“It is an Africa which is no longer characterised by coups and one-party states. Instead, we are witnessing the rise and spread of multi-party electoral democracy. We have taken matters of peace, security and the rule of law into our own hands. Those who come into power through unlawful means are ostracised.”
He then zoomed in on Namibia, which he said is a land of opportunities, especially for those wanting to set up shop here. He highlighted the country’s strong democracy, punctuated by regular free and fair elections and topping African charts of press freedom.
“Founding Father Sam Nujoma and our second president Hifikepunye Pohamba live peacefully and are greatly revered by the public,” he said.
He was frank in stating that upon independence, the Swapo-led government inherited a skewed economy, hence the high levels of income inequality in the country. “The World Bank rating of higher middle-income based on GDP (Gross Domestic Product) per capita is deceptive and does not reveal the reality on the ground.”
The rating was based on a “simple mathematical formula, where GDP is divided by the small population of Namibia”, he noted, adding that “Namibia is rich but Namibians are poor,” in a rather honest assessment.
He said investment opportunities exist in the country’s manufacturing and value addition, energy, tourism, housing and logistics sectors.