President Geingob's statement at the 15th Anniversary of the Walvis Bay Corridor Group

August 31, 2015, 3:32pm

President Geingob's statement at the 15th Anniversary of the Walvis Bay Corridor Group


Republic of Namibia Statement by his Excellency Dr. Hage Geingob, President of the Republic of Namibia at the Occasion of the 15th Anniversary of the Walvis Bay Cooridor Group
27 August 2015

Director of Ceremonies; Honourable Alpheus !Naruseb, Minister of Transport and other Ministers present here; Honorable Cleophas Mutjavikua, Governor of the Erongo Region; Your Worship Nehemia Salomon, the Mayor of Swakopmund; Mr. Bisey Uirab, Chairman of the Walvis Bay Corridor Group; Mr. Johny Smith, CEO of the Walvis Bay Corridor Group; Captains of Industries present here; Members of the Diplomatic Corps; Members of the Media; Ladies and Gentlemen;

It is my pleasure to join you this evening, in order to mark the 15 Anniversary of the Walvis Bay Corridor Group.

Namibia is a country blessed by a unique legacy of leadership. Firstly, the Founding Father, Comrade Sam Nujoma, laid a firm foundation for our development as a nation by ensuring peace in Namibia. My Predecessor, Comrade Hifikepunye Pohamba, brought stability to Namibia, building on the sound legacy of Comrade Nujoma. Through a peaceful and much lauded transfer of power, yours truly was voted by you, the people of Namibia, as the third President of the Republic of Namibia, with the task of bringing prosperity to the nation.

Namibia’s unblemished track record in governance is well known. We are rated the 6 (sixth) best-governed African country by the Mo Ibrahim Index of African Governance; rated 7 “clean country” by Transparency International’s Corruption index; and ranked as a country with the “freest press in Africa” by Reporters without Borders.

Similarly, our macroeconomic architecture is admirable, underpinned by financial stability evident in our world-class banking system (a sector ranked number 25 in the world by the World Economic Forum), and well regulated through a prudent monetary policy for the past 25 years. Global rating agencies such as Fitch and Standard & Poors, have consistently accorded Namibia triple BBB plus ratings which is a testimony that the country enjoys prudent economic management. 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 as this is continentally and globally recognized.

Director of Ceremonies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Despite the achievements I have mentioned, we still have work to do when it comes to our socio-economic architecture. Many of our people are still battling the scourge of poverty and there are income disparities that need to be addressed. It is for this reason that I have declared a full out war against poverty.

The first actions in this war have already taken place. Firstly, we have established the Ministry of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare, which is tasked with ensuring that poverty is wiped out from the face of Namibia. Secondly, we have improved the old age pension by increasing it by 66.7 percent from N$600 per month, to N$1,000 per month, starting this Financial Year.

I have also noted that the war on poverty must be multifaceted and that it will require the efforts of all members of the Namibia House to win this war. One of the main strategies in the war against poverty will be to put our economy on an inclusive, sustainable high growth trajectory that will create decent jobs. One way of achieving this goal will be through the use of our natural resources by ensuring equitable distribution of fishing quotas and mining rights.

Director of Ceremonies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Government has invested significantly, directly and indirectly through its various agencies, in growth critical infrastructure. Consequently, the past five years have been good from a growth perspective, as the average annual growth for the last decade has been at an average of 5 percent.

The higher growth performance in 2014 has resulted in the addition of new jobs in the local economy compared to the previous year. Yes, our unemployment rate has started too decline, and we can now see light at the end of the tunnel. The same holds true for progress on the social front. The facts suggest that Namibia today is a much better place to live in than a decade ago. I, therefore, fully comprehend that going forward; expectations of the Namibian people will continue to increase. However, for us to eliminate poverty from the face of Namibia, the economy will have to grow at an even higher rate, and more jobs will have to be created. We need to transform into a wealth generating economy to ensure that no Namibian should be left out in our quest for development.

Director of Ceremonies, Ladies and Gentlemen

Realizing the importance of industrialization in generating decent jobs and higher economic growth, Namibia is one of two countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, we are implementing our Industrialization Policy through the Growth at Home strategy.

One of the key realizations of our industrialization policy was to have a focus approached where we identify areas in which we have a comparative advantage. As Government, we have therefore deliberately selected industries and sectors with higher growth and job creation potential, as is documented in our Fourth National Development Plan.

One important sector selected to boost our industrialization drive is transport and logistics. The rationale for this decision is obvious. Our port at Walvis Bay is strategically located on the West Coast of Africa and sits on the doorstep of one of the fastest growing regions in the world, the Southern Africa Development Community [SADC]. Some of the fastest growing economies on the continent are our neighbors but many of them are landlocked. On the other hand, Namibia has a coastline and a natural harbour. To harness this opportunity in the context of regional economic integration, we have decided to sea-link our landlocked neighboring countries.

Consequently, Government has deliberately decided to invest significantly in all four modes of our transport infrastructure by increasing the transport sector budget by 39%. These investments are already starting to bear fruit, as the volumes of cargo transported through our corridors have increased significantly.

Following the rehabilitation of our port and roadways, attention will shift to our rail system, because without a functioning rail system, Namibia will not be able to realize the goal of becoming the foremost logistics hub of SADC. Moreover, if our rail system does not work the way it should, the huge investments made in the upgrade of our port and roads will not be fully utilized. In addition to the upgrading of our rail infrastructure, expansion efforts of our railway lines should continue. These include strategic projects such as the railway line between Botswana and Namibia, as well as the railway line between Namibia and Zambia, via the Zambezi region.

Director of Ceremonies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is one thing to invest in physical infrastructure, which is tangible. However, for us to flourish as a true logistics hub, we must also develop the intangibles. In this regard, some progress has been made in simplifying business processes, including cross border transit procedures, through tri-lateral agreements between Botswana, Namibia and South Africa, and between the DRC, Namibia and Zambia. We need to develop more human resources to fully benefit from the entire logistics value chain.

Director of Ceremonies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

There is no doubt that significant progress has been made in the effort to position Namibia as the number one logistics hub in SADC. I thank the Walvis Bay Corridor Group for the relentless effort it has put into developing routes between out ports and border points as well as the rest of SADC. However, we should not rest on our laurels. We should also develop our airports, and build routes for movement of people, as another strategically selected sector that enjoys top government priority is tourism.

Director of Ceremonies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to conclude by acknowledging that although Government has invested heavily in the transport sector, these efforts alone will not enable us to become the foremost logistics hub in the SADC Region. I therefore, call upon the private sector to meet the government halfway by coming up with innovative funding solutions to support our economic growth over the medium term.

We must all bring our part in the spirit of “Ask not always what Government can do for me”, but how can we all as members of this Namibian House continuously pull in the same direction. If we do this, I have no doubt, that we will achieve the target for the second phase of our struggle, which is economic emancipation for all.

I thank you for your attention.