Namibia once did not exist. What existed were close-knit bands of people, sharing the same language and tribal origin, who sat around fires to strategise on survival, which often meant killing the next tribe that crossed their sight.
To access edibles in a particular territory, tribes had to sharpen their swords and kill those they perceived as a threat to their own survival. Survivors were enslaved and subjected to hard labour and rape.
But as time passed, and Portuguese navigators such as Diogo Cam and Bartolomeu Dias arrived, local tribes started looking outwards and reaching out to their neighbours to forge a united front against emerging foreign exploitation.
With English missionaries arriving, followed by Germans, and with the annexation of Walvis Bay as part of the Cape Colony and Lüderitz by a German company, locals knew there and then that it was time to unite. The rest – after blood was shed in untold volumes – is history.
Today we still are not an ethnically homogeneous state but we see ourselves as a nation, now called Namibia. We have embraced national sovereignty as the anchor of our very existence, but with an outward attitude to embrace what is in the global space for us.
Apart from being a product of international solidarity, Namibia’s globalisation drive is the necessary tonic for a nation striving for economic growth, but whose slender population is an impediment to those ambitions.
One researcher, named Albrow, refers to globalisation as “all those processes by which the people of the world are incorporated into a single world society.”
Namibia on Sunday signed the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) in another victory for globalisation. The historic document creates the largest free trade zone since the creation of the WTO in 1995, according to Brookings.
Protectionism, for a country as small as ours where local economic activity is not happening at an industrial scale, in a global sense, is self-defeating.
Peaceful relations, free trade, global connectivity, and unity in diversity are among the arguments towards the benefits of globalisation. Africa’s intraregional trade lies well below that of other regions.
It is reported that in 2016, intra-African exports made up 18 percent of total exports, compared to 59 and 69 percent for intra-Asia and intra-Europe exports, respectively. The figures for imports are similar.
Last year already, Namibia got the ball rolling on plans to scrap visa requirements for African passport holders after Cabinet authorised the implementation of this process – to be carried out in line with diplomatic procedures.
Namibia will soon start issuing African passport holders with visas on arrival at ports of entry as a first step towards the eventual abolition of all visa requirements for all Africans. Elsewhere in this edition is a story about Namibia having extended this luxury to Jamaican citizens visiting the country. In terms of the trade agreement, Namibia is now challenged to be a producer of goods and services that would net this country export income. A trillion-dollar market has opened up to us and we should move away from being mere consumers of other nations’ products but become respectable exporters ourselves.