Zambia seeks stronger ties with Namibia
Namibia and Zambia have strengthened bilateral ties following Zambian President Rupiah Banda’s three day state visit to Namibia from 23 June to June 25. During his stay in Namibia, the Zambian President held talks with his Namibian counterpart President Hifikepunye Pohamba on a wide range of bilateral issues including political situations in their respective countries, regional and international issues of mutual concern. In addition to the exchange of views and consultations on matters of mutual interests, the two presidents, represented by their ministers of foreign affairs entered into a memorandum of understanding on Diplomatic Consultations, which is expected to provide an additional frame-work for increased and deeper bilateral co-operation between Zambia and Namibia. In 2007, Namibia and Zambia embarked on co-operation projects, notably the dry-port facility for Zambia at Walvis Bay. The first phase of this project has been implemented, with the completion of the second phase anticipated by December. President Banda also visited various institutions in the country, of which the Dry Port facility for Zambia at the Namibian harbour town of Walvis Bay is the most prominent. In his opening statement during the official talks at the Namibian State house on Wednesday, President Pohamba noted that he was pleased with the level of bilateral co-operation between the two countries, which he said has yield positive results in the areas of infrastructure development and electricity trade. Pohamba said the growing shortage of electricity in the SADC Region should receive the highest attention of the two nations, as the scarcity of electricity has become one of the most daunting challenges for the two governments. “…In this regard, the inadequate generation capacity in the region must be addressed speedily, prudently and strategically to ensure sustainable social-economic development in the region…,” said Mr Pohamba. The two presidents also called for deeper cooperation in health sector in the form of the finalization of memorandum of understanding in areas of HIV/Aids, TB and malaria among others. Zambia, through its electricity utility Zesco, has been supplying the North-Western Namibian town of Katima Mulilo with electricity for the past 20 years. The Trans-Caprivi highway and the bridge across the Zambezi river, the One Stop Border Post at Wenela and the Walvis Bay -Ndola-Lubumbashi Corridor are all examples of infrastructural projects between the two countries. This was Banda’s first state visit to Namibia after he became president following the death of President Levy Mwanawasa in 2008. He subsequently won the Presidential elections in October 2008. Banda was accompanied by his Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Kabinga Pande; Minister of Livestock and Fisheries, Bredford Machila and Prof Geoffrey Lungwangwa, the country’s Minister of Communication and Transport and other senior government officials.