Namibia achieved her Independence 27 years ago, in the early nineties when the world was undergoing fundamental change. Fast forward to February 2017, we can safely say that there is movement and shift in our realm of operation that is the international system.
At the continental level, the architecture of the Constitutive Act of the African Union was almost tested when the legitimately elected leader of The Gambia was sworn in as president in a neighbouring country, due to the outgoing president who almost thwarted the will of The Gambian people.
After more than 20 years of voluntary exile from the Organisation of the African Unity (OAU), Morocco joined the African Union (AU). The African Union is having a new chairperson of the commission, so is the United Nations. In the USA, we have a new administration, sending waves across the world. The global economic slowdown is continuing and countries feeling the effects. Environmental is impeding sustainable development and Namibia is not left untouched on the home front, we have not received sufficient rains across the country and some of citizens are still facing water shortage.
These are just some of the domestic and international developments that we have to take into account as we chart our course for the New Year.
The past year was marked by resource challenges that hampered the execution of some of our programs. As a result some Official visits, Joint Commissions and other scheduled programs could not take place. However, we managed to have Joint Working Groups (JWG) and Joint Commissions of Cooperation (JCC), such as the Inaugural JCC with Mali, JCCs with Ghana and Cuba, a Bi-National Commission with South Africa, and bilateral consultations with Algeria, among many others.
At the ministerial level, we received several Ministers of Foreign Affairs / International Relations, and the two Deputy Ministers. Myself, I visited countries such as Belarus, Serbia, Russian Federation, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and Algeria. I was able to accompany President Hage Geingob, President of the Republic of Namibia to bilateral and multilateral visits. While the Deputy Minister Dr. Peya Mushelenga visited Venezuela, Kenya, The Gambia, Cuba and Botswana, and the Deputy Minister for the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister Maureen Hinda also undertook visits to Kenya, China, Equatorial Guinea and United Kingdom.
These visits were in pursuit of stronger bilateral relations. Some have resulted in MoUs and Agreements signed, aimed at strengthening economic and political ties which will yield significant benefits for our country. We also opened an Embassy in Algeria.
During 2017, we must combine vigour with innovation, as such we may consider to substitute some of the JCCs and Working Groups, with targeted bilateral visits that are less costly, but equally efficient.
In this regard, we need to focus more on developmental activities in accordance with our national development priorities. It is not the quantity of agreements that matter, but impact of the implementation of these bilateral agreements on the lives of our people and the region as a whole. Furthermore, the intensity of bilateral cooperation between Namibia and her development and trading partners depend on the chain of coordination and initiatives between the Ministry and the Missions.
Domestically, it should also be understood that contact with the line Ministries is not only through letters signed by the Permanent Secretary, but very important to have contact persons in the line Ministries that we can contact directly. People to people contact is essential in following up issues.
In our Strategic Plan, the promotion of trade and investment is a major objective. Our Performance Agreement also points to the importance of economic diplomacy. Together with Missions, General Consulates and Honorary Consuls we must continue to mobilise investors to take advantage of the investment opportunities in our country. We have also to encourage Namibians to have business interest outside Namibia to advance our Policy on economic diplomacy. We need to follow up on the successful invest in Namibia Conference that was held last year in Windhoek, as well as His Excellency’s visits to different countries.
With regard to Multilateral Relations and Cooperation, let me point out that, at the regional level, in the SADC we adopted the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP), which is a comprehensive development and implementation framework guiding the Regional Integration agenda of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) over a period of fifteen years (2005-2020). It is designed to provide clear strategic direction with respect to the SADC programs, projects and activities in line with the SADC Common Agenda and strategic priorities, as enshrined in the SADC Treaty of 1992. The ultimate objective of the plan is to deepen regional integration, with a view to accelerate poverty eradication and the attainment of socio-economic development.
With regard to the African Union, Vision of Africa expressed in Agenda 2063 is one of an Africa whose development is people-driven, especially relying on the potential offered by its women and youth. Agenda 2063 builds on, and seeks to accelerate the implementation of past and existing continental initiatives for growth and sustainable development, therefore its implementation is crucial for Africa’s development.
Namibia has embarked on a process of incorporating Agenda 2063 and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) or Agenda 2030 in our 5th National Development Plan (NDP5) that is near finalization. Which means domesticating both Agenda 2063 and the Agenda 2030. The Harambee Prosperity Plan, which is a shared vision representing a Namibia where everyone feels a sense of belonging, where everyone is presented with a fair opportunity to prosper in an inclusive manner, is a mechanism aimed at facilitating the implementation of Vision 2010 as well as Agenda 2063 for sustainable development to be realised.
As you know Namibia has decided to accede to the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM). The Mechanism is a bold and unique African initiative. As a country, we are proud to have taken that step. APRM is geared towards fostering the adoption of policies, standards and practices that lead to political stability, high economic growth, sustainable development, and accelerated economic integration, an approach we need to achieve the noble aspirations and Developmental Goals of Agenda 2063 and Agenda 2030.
In our quest to promote regional integration through infrastructure development, President Geingob, has accepted an invitation to become one of the Champions on the continent to promote infrastructure development in Africa. At the same time, Namibia submitted a consolidated proposal to the NEPAD-PICI Technical Committee consisting of the following projects, which were accepted: Katima Mulilo Railway-Line Development Project, the Baynes Hydro-Power Project, the Trans-Kalahari Railway-Line Development Plan and the Trans-Orange River Highway and Rail. It is therefore expected that Namibia will be formally admitted to the PICI during the AU Summit in July 2017.
The democratisation of the UN is very important to ensure a fair international system. Hence a need for the reform of the UN Security Council.
Against this background, Namibia reaffirmed the support to Ezulwini Consensus and the Sirte Declaration on the reform of the UN Security Council.
• This is an edited extract of the statement by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah during her inaugural address to staff this week.