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B2Gold offers hope for economic growth

By Staff Reporter
A Canadian company which has invested billions of dollars in the Otjikoto Gold Mine has once again demonstrated confidence local and foreign investors have in the Namibian economy, says President Hage Geingob.

Construction of the B2Gold Mine in Otjozondjupa Region, some 80km north of Otjiwarongo, started in 2013 with an initial investment of U$343 investment, shortly after the Canadian company, Auryx Gold, received its Statement of Investment from the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

A further U$30 million (U$1 equals N$12, 27) was spent on the power plant. President Geingob, who officially opened the mine this week said this was no mean feat, adding that a lot of groundwork and planning went into this project before it started in 2013.

"You have overcome many obstacles in order to bring this huge investment project from a dream to a reality, but today is the culmination of all your hard work and perseverance. Omake," said President Geingob. "The Otjokoto Gold Mine symbolizes yet another step forward in Namibia's efforts towards attracting foreign investment, which will feed our ultimate goal of sustained economic growth, job creation, wealth distribution and economic emancipation."

This was also an endorsement that government's efforts to attract direct foreign investments were bearing fruits. President Geingob said for a reputable company like Aurxy to invest in Namibia showed that Namibia was becoming a preferable and most attractive Foreign Direct Investment, FDI, destination. He said this investment went beyond just having a conducive business environment, as it was also a recognition of the manner in which the country was governed and the manner in which the economy was managed. Namibia has been rated as the 6th (sixth) best governed country in Africa by the Mo Ibrahim Index of African Governance. Former President Hifikepunye Pohamba won this year's N$58 million Mo Ibrahim Prize Award.

Transparency International's Corruption Index rates Namibia at 7th (seventh), clean country, while Reporters without Borders has ranked Namibia as a country with the "freest press in Africa."

President Geingob attributed these successes to his predecessors, Founding President Sam Nujoma who brought peace and reconciliation to a country divided by the ills of apartheid, and former President Pohamba who had turned the country into a stable country politically and economically.

The country's macroeconomic architecture was also admirable, underpinned by financial stability, which was evident in the country's world-class banking system. Namibia's monetary policy is also well regulated. The World Economic Forum rates Namibia at 25th in the world. "The stable, peaceful and democratic Namibia we know is not occasioned by either luck or accident. It is the result of deliberate and responsible policy formulation and it is a credit to us as a nation that is continentally and globally recognized," said President Geingob. "While we are heartened by the confidence placed in us by the Namibian people as well as international acclaim, we are resistant of the temptation to become complacent," said President Geingob.

Despite the excellent progress the country has made in terms of putting in place robust governance and macroeconomic architecture, more work was still needed to be done to develop the country's socio-economic architecture. He said there were too many social deficits which needed to be urgently addressed, such as income distribution, unemployment, access to factors of production, poverty and hunger.

"This is why I have declared all-out war on poverty and this is why I have rallied my Cabinet to fight this war on all fronts. As government, we have a vision to completely eradicate poverty in Namibia, but we can only achieve this through partnerships with the private sector and foreign investors," said President Geingob. "Government will bring poverty eradication into reality through hard work, hand in hand with private investors. There is enough wealth in Namibia for all of us to live comfortably."

The President was quick, however, to point out that people did not eat gold or diamonds, as these raw materials and alloys were processed into valuable commodities which were bought by affluent people in developed countries. Namibia might be endowed with many natural resources, he said, but if such resources were merely extracted and sold elsewhere, Namibians would not attain maximum benefits from such resources.

He called on the Otjokoto Gold Mine to play a crucial role in redressing such socio-economic deficits. The Mine is expected to pay nearly N$90 million to government in royalties every year, apart from corporate tax, which President Geingob said would help in the fight against poverty and its consequences. During its construction, Otjokoto Gold Mine employed over 1000 people and local contractors. It now employs nearly 700 permanent employees, mostly from historically disadvantaged backgrounds.

Two weeks ago, President Geingob visited Tsumkwe, one of the most impoverished areas in the country, where he renewed his all-out war on poverty. He assured residents there that this was a government committed to helping the poor through various innovative initiatives. He repeated the same call at Otjikoto Gold Mine.

"We cannot ignore the fact that we live in an unequal society. Dealing with issues related to this inequality is the government's number one priority. We have a moral responsibility to help those who cannot help themselves," he said.

"This is the era of New Africa, where we don't travel the world with outstretched hands begging for foreign aid but where we travel the world with an extended hand, ready to invite our international friends to come to Africa and invest, subsequently creating win-win partnerships with local businesses and government. This is what we have done with B2Gold Mine."


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