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Why Africa and China should work together

By Martha-Tilahun Namundjebo
We are at a unique and exciting point in our mutually beneficial relationship and this Fourth Roundtable Conference on China-Africa cooperation is taking place at a time whenwe as friendly partners have huge opportunities in front of us. I therefore attach a great significance to this forum today.

The opportunities lie in the fact that there is no hegemony anymore in the global economy and we are no more marginal. Today both China and Africa are integral to the world economy. China is the world's factory and a major consumer market that no one can afford to ignore.

Africa is rich in natural resources which are generating numerous business opportunities. Africa is also endowed with the fastest growing and youngest population in the world. And this is also a market that no one can afford to ignore. The challenge for us at this Fourth Roundtable is marry these respective strengths of China and Africa in a way that unleashes the creative and entrepreneurial energies of our people in order for them to attain socio-economic prosperity.

In this regard, business to business cooperation is critical in order to craft strategic alliances that will enable us to pursue avenues that deepen market, trade and investment cooperation. We are not starting in a vacuum as there are instruments such as the China Africa Fund which facilitates such cooperation. Furthermore, Chinese companies have been key players in both the infrastructure development sector as well as the resource sector.

We now need to explore the opportunities for African firms in this evolving partnership so that we can ensure mutual benefits for all of us. My colleagues in business, some of whom are here today, are excited about the potential partnerships with our Chinese friends, which could result from this forum today.

We are keen to work in partnerships with our Chinese friends to take advantage of various opportunities in our country in key sectors such as mining, solar energy, oil and gas exploration, agriculture and Argo processing, infrastructure development, tourism infrastructure and hospitality, the creation of logistics hubs, real estate and housing to mention but a few!

I would therefore like to urge all Chinese entrepreneurs who are interested in doing business with Namibia to engage our delegation at this forum or make contact with the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry to get more information about specific investment opportunities available. This invitation, I should point out, also applies to my African brothers and sisters as Intra-African trade and investment flows are key leg in expanding China-Africa economic relationship.

A strong united and economically integrated Africa is in China's interest as much as it is in our interest. In this respect, the level of investments made by African governments in infrastructure development indicates positive trends towards making our continent more competitive in attracting investments. In addition, the continent is working visibly hard to create a bigger internal market within itself by deepening market integration. One of the efforts made in this regard is the creation of a tripartite free trade area among three regional trading blocks, namely SADC, COMESA and Et African Community (EAC).

I therefore have no fear of contradiction to state that Africa is a very safe and profitable home for investments but the time to be in Africa for investors is now. Anyone who is not in Africa now, may miss the boat tomorrow. Namibia, where I come from, has enormous potentials for investments and trade. We are among the most peaceful, most democratic and most stable countries in the world. We take investments very seriously and value our friends who come and invest in our economy. We also take the empowerment of our people, especially the youth and women very seriously.

As a member of the Central Committee of the ruling party In Namibia, SWAPO Party, I am very proud to say that we have taken a conscious decision to have a 50/ 50 representation of men and women in all the structures of the Party and the state organs.

Namibia has made significant strides in creating necessary conditions for attracting investments and promoting trade. We have enacted laws which provide required protection to investors who may wish to make investments in Namibia. We also developed transport infrastructure which link Namibia to the rest of the region and have made the Port of Walvis Bay available for usage by our neighboring countries including Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, DRC, Angola and South Africa.

The country is in a strategic geographical location. It is part of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) which boasts a market of about 300 million people. SADC has created a free trade area with efforts to merge it with two other free trade areas within Africa, namely COMESA and East African Community, creating a market of over 600 million people.

Namibia is by no means alone in terms pursuing investor friendly policies. Therefore these and many other developments present excellent business opportunities for those of us in business to thrive on and impact on the economic development agenda of Africa as well as China. An opportunity such as this Fourth Roundtable should be used effectively to create opportunities for increased trade and investment activities between China and Africa.


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