Trade still low despite increasing volumes
Windhoek – The Chief Executive Officer of the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) Tarah Shaanika says that although inter-trade in the Southern African Region remains low, volumes have increased significantly and products are moving around.
“We have achieved peace – many conflicts have come to an end, like in Angola. We have deepening of democracy in the region. Institutions (for elections) have been strengthened and there is massive infrastructure development,” he said.
Shaanika, who is also the chairperson of NamZim Newspapers, was speaking at the launch of the ‘Inside Southern Africa’ business magazine on 29 April 2015, which is an additional product in addition to The Southern Times.
He further commended the region for expanding its ports, roads, bridges and making electricity accessible.
“What we don’t see is a reflection of this progress. Too few articles in the international media are positive about such developments,” he said, adding that for example the city of Talatona in Angola is depicted to be wasteful, while housing development is booming there.
Shaanika lashed out at some media outlets who are only focusing on the negative and sensationalising issues when they could be concentrating on evidence of progress instead of only being fixated on negative stories as the best stories.
“Stories must be properly packaged. There is slow pace of economic integration, high transport costs and the pace of developing infrastructure needs to be addressed,” he reckoned, saying that free trade areas had been created in the region but there was need to ensure production of goods for trading.
The NCCI head said that the region must remind itself that regional integration would not move faster if it does not take control of its economic infrastructural development as countries outside Africa would not realise that dream for Southern Africa.
“We must build own capacity,” he said, calling on Southern African Development Community (SADC) to join forces and compete for developing infrastructure and products in the region.
Shaanika said that the aim of the Inside Southern Africa magazine was to create a platform, interaction and dialogue in the region and remove distrust between politicians and business people.
“We would like to tell our stories from a Southern African perspective – the way we see it and not how other people see it,” he stressed.
Also speaking at the launch, the Deputy Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Stanley Simataa, echoed Shaanika’s sentiments, saying that Africans, complain that the outside world paints a bad picture of them but do nothing about it.
He added that complaining would not take the continent anywhere if it continued to promote stagnation of its countries and allow others to recount their stories as if Africans did not have the ability to do so themselves.
Simataa encouraged small-to-medium enterprises (SME’s) in the region to use the business magazine to aggressively market their products and said that many people who thought The Southern Times was a propaganda project between Zimbabwe and Namibia, have changed their minds about the regional newspaper.
“We are a society that is supposed to be bound together because of our common identity and aspirations,” he emphasised, saying that the launch of the magazine was a new revolution in information sharing within the SADC region.
The MICT Deputy Minister urged all SADC member states to buy into the magazine initiative and provide information on trade, economic policies and any socio-economic initiatives that are being pursued in their respective countries.
“The emergence of this magazine is a golden opportunity for us as Africa, for us as a region, indeed for us as a country, to accentuate our long cherished desire,” he said.