President Hage Geingob’s historic state visit to China ends today, having met China President Xi Jinping, leaders of various industries and, as icing on the cake, that country’s wealthiest man, Jack Ma.
While Geingob did not rule out acquiring financial assistance from China to help stimulate economic activity at home, his visit might prove bigger than initially thought – provided that the various commitments made see the light of day.
Geingob confirmed to New Era last week that his visit was in part to look at some “financial arrangements”, which he said the government would consider if they come at good terms.
But it is the mooted establishment of the China-Namibia comprehensive strategic partnership that stole the headlines internationally, though details of that arrangement remain skimpy.
But pen was put on the dotted lines for infrastructure, financing and protocols on agricultural quarantine cooperative deals, China Daily reported over the long weekend.
Finance Minister Calle Schlettwein during his recent budget speech said that Namibia needs N$13 billion for road infrastructure maintenance and rehabilitation, to be funded through the Road Fund Administration, and project financing in the power and water sectors by NamPower and NamWater, as well as PPP investments in public infrastructure.
Some of the listed projects would need off-budget financing, Schlettwein said, and it is believed the trip to China was in part to help meet these targets.
Before jetting off back home, Geingob yesterday addressed the China-Namibia Business Forum and held consultation with Shanghai’s top political leader Li Qiang.
Meanwhile, Geingob addressed the China-Namibia Business Forum, which attracted around 300 business leaders, and
emphasised the transformational potential of business in development, the fight against poverty and inequality.
Geingob encouraged Chinese businesses to invest in Namibia as a hub
for the regional and African markets. The country, President Geingob argued, has a favourable climate as a peaceful country respecting the rule of law, as well as good physical infrastructure and a government that has passed business-enabling legislation.
“Namibia attaches great importance to relations with China. Our relations have stood the test of time, remaining steadfast in times of upheaval, a true example of all-weather friendship,” said Geingob last week during his state visit to the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
He also expressed appreciation to “China’s commitment as important bilateral partner” in the country’s development agenda for which the sole objectives are poverty eradication, sustainable economic development and inclusive prosperity for all.
“Our current global environment is dominated by the proliferation of information technologies, an area in which China has made great progress. Namibia seeks to draw from Chinese expertise in this area,” said Geingob.
He also met Ma, the Chinese business magnate, investor and philanthropist thought to be currently worth US$42.4 billion.
Geingob told Ma, who is founder of the revered Alibaba Group, that he follows the Chinese tycoon’s entrepreneurial activities closely and thanked him for his visit to Namibia last year.
Geingob also encouraged Ma to involve himself in Namibia through the provision of training opportunities, internships and mentoring of young Namibians involved in business and ICT, and urged him to explore Namibia’s tourism sector because it holds great potential.
On his part, Ma congratulated Geingob on “the great trip”, which he had followed on television, adding that he found Namibia to be well managed and clean. Ma also said his visit to Namibia last year was one of the few he had undertaken to Africa.
Further, Ma indicated that he was ready to invest in Namibia, and businesses in the country would be encouraged to join his e-commerce platform to sell their products.
Ma emphasised that if e-commerce could work in China, it could work in Africa.
Following the conclusion of bilateral talks with President Xi Jinping, a state banquet was held in Geingob’s honour at the Great Hall of the People.
To conclude his state Visit, Geingob also met with the party secretary of Shanghai and member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China, Li Qiang.