President Hage Geingob has urged the Indonesian business community to consider investing in Namibia because of its strategic location as a gateway to the southern African market.
Speaking at the occasion of the Indonesia Namibia Business Forum held in Jakarta, Indonesia this week, Geingob told the Indonesian business community that presence in Namibia translates into having access to a market of approximately 330 million people due to trade arrangements such as the South African Customs Union (SACU) and the Free Trade Agreement under SADC.
Geingob is visiting Indonesia until 1 September, and thereafter travel to Beijing, China to participate in the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) from 3-4 September.
With the continental free trade agreement gaining traction, the president said this figure will increase to over one billion people, of whom more than half are young, upwardly mobile Africans.
Diplomatic relations between Namibia and Indonesia were established in 1990, formalised in 1994 when Indonesia opened a resident mission in Windhoek, which still stands today as one of the longest resident missions in Namibia.
Geingob said he was honoured to meet with the Indonesian business community, to strengthen economic relations between the two countries, in the context of South-South Cooperation.
“We are here in Indonesia, the birthplace of large-scale Afro-Asian cooperation, where 63 years ago, Asian and African leaders met in Bandung, for the now famous Bandung Conference.
“Hosted by the late President Surkano, this conference was a stepping-stone towards the Non-Aligned Movement and a platform for the promotion of Afro-Asian economic and cultural cooperation.”
He said the Bandung Conference encapsulated the spirit of unity and familiarity that exists between the people of Asia and Africa.
Geingob, who is also chairperson of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), said he wants to promote greater economic cooperation and trade with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), whose headquarters are in Jakarta.
He noted that the Indonesian economy, the largest economy in South-East Asia and one of the world’s largest emerging markets, is a formidable frontier that offers Namibia and SADC opportunities for investment, skills development and technological advancement.
“This is the potential that lies in the Indonesia-Namibia and ASEAN-SADC partnership.”
Geingob said there remain ample opportunities for Namibia to expand its trade, investment and economic cooperation relationship with the large Indonesian economy, especially in the sectors of agriculture, fisheries, tourism, minerals and energy and information communication technologies.
Trade between Indonesia and Namibia remains very low and there is need to increase and diversify trade and investment between the two countries.
Indonesia imports Namibian Zinc concentrate, while Namibia imports among others, agricultural products and rubber materials.
During bilateral talks with Joko Widodo, President of Indonesia, Geingob explored opportunities in agriculture, fisheries, tourism and infrastructure development, and expressed appreciation that Indonesia has exempted visa requirements for Namibians.
“We will endeavour to reciprocate this gesture from our Indonesian brothers and sisters,” the president said.
Geingob and Widodo agreed during official bilateral talks on Thursday at Bogor Presidential Palace to deepen trade and investment between the two countries.
Geingob said agriculture and productivity was critical, and valuable benchmarking lessons will be drawn from the Indonesian experience.
Geingob and Widodo also witnessed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Marine Affairs and Fisheries Cooperation. The MoU, setting up a framework for cooperation through the establishment of a Joint Technical Committee, shall endeavour to develop sustainable aquaculture, capacity building, research and marine conservation, including coastal and marine ecotourism.
Geingob was also expected to visit Dirgantara Indonesia, an aerospace company with competencies in aircraft design and manufacturing, including provision of aircraft services for civilian and military use.
From Indonesia, Geingob will proceed to China where the Namibian and Chinese governments are expected to sign three more agreements during the upcoming FOCAC.
The agreements include the Belt and Road Cooperation, tourism cooperation and the visa exemption for diplomatic and service passport holders.