The volume of trade between Iran and African countries surged by 23 percent in 2017 and the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Ambassador to Namibia, Vahid Karimi, wants Namibia to be in on the action.
For this reason, an Iranian business delegation, led by Iran’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Mohammad Javad Zarif, in conjunction with the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry, hosted an Iran-Namibia Economic Forum at a local hotel yesterday.
The forum, which was attended by hundreds of local businesspeople, aimed to create viable business partnerships between Iranian and Namibian companies. The forum formed part of the Iranian delegation’s mission to Senegal, Brazil, Uruguay and Namibia and included Iranian companies involved in banking, investment, health, pharmaceuticals, power generation, agriculture and water management, to name but a few.
“We came fully prepared because Iran has an emotional attachment to Namibia,” said Dr Zarif to the packed house, adding that he is not in the country to discuss any new legal framework and economic policies but to implement the existing agreements between the two countries.
He noted that the priority projects for the delegation is a proposed tractor factory, Liquefied petroleum gas storage and engaging with Namibia’s scientific community.
Hosting the visiting delegation, Minister of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development, Tjekero Tweya, echoed the visiting foreign minister’s sentiments, saying: “I am not interested in talking, I am interested in implementation… Namibia is ready to host your businesses and from here you can disseminate your goods to the rest of the African continent.”
Ambassador Karimi pointed out to the Iranian delegation that Namibia is a potential gateway, not only to southern Africa but to all land-locked countries like Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe. “Facilities provided in Walvis Bay are feeding even Angola. So, you should be looking for a market of nearly 200 million people,” said Karimi.
“Iran genuinely is offering her open arms to transfer knowledge and technology, to develop your beloved country, Namibia. For example, South Africa and Iran have signed eight agreements on various areas, including trade, under which they have agreed to boost non-oil trade to US$2 billion by 2021. In a small scale, it could apply to Namibia too,” Karimi added.
In the area of agriculture, the visiting delegation is looking at a tractor assembly plant, water and electricity and renewable energy or specifically a wind turbine power generating facility.
In the energy and mining spheres, the delegation is considering oil and gas, LPG cylinder storage, an oil refinery as well as bitumen, petrochemicals and mining machinery.
In terms of technology and infrastructure, the delegation is investigating sharing nano technology, information technology, science parks, scholarly training, infrastructure, a possible cement factory, mass housing, railway and road development and banking cooperation.