By Andreas Thomas
WINDHOEK – THE bilateral cooperation between Namibia and France will be greatly enhanced, as the business community takes a leading role in boosting relations through increased trade, investment and economic activities, says President Hage Geingob.
For this reason, President Geingob, during his state visit to France on Monday, encouraged more French companies to come and invest in the country, especially in priority sectors of the economy.
“We would like to encourage many more French companies to take advantage of their advanced technology and greater industrial know-how to come and invest in priority areas such as transport infrastructure, affordable housing, agriculture and manufacturing,” Geingob said in his Tuesday address to the Movement of the Enterprises of France, the largest employer federation in France.
“As you have successfully done in France, we want to develop our manufacturing capabilities to become the backbone of our economy. We are, therefore, eager to learn from you about the development of labour-intensive industries.
“Our main focus is on value addition. We believe that by adding value to our natural resources, Namibia will be able to increase its industrial output and thereby increase its exports of finished and high quality goods to regional and international markets.
“For this purpose, we have developed the ‘Growth at Home Strategy’, which aims to place emphasis on commodity-based industrialisation through the strengthening of local and national value chains. We welcome French technology, know-how and innovation to be partners in Namibia’s growth at home story.
He noted that Namibia and France trade in a number of products including fish, food and beverages, minerals, petroleum products, chemicals clothing, live animals, and pharmaceutical products.
And that Namibia sourced goods worth €25.6 million from France last year.
The President expressed his delight that several French companies are already doing business in Namibia.
“Their investments have created jobs and transferred technology and expertise. These include, for example, the development of the 4.5MW Omburu solar plant in Omaruru by InnoSun, which was completed in April 2015.
“A second solar plant is being developed in Okahandja with a capacity of 4.5 MW by the same company while the company is also planning to set up a 150MW wind farm in one of our national parks.
“Other investments by the French companies have been made in the tourism, mining, services and retail sectors,” he said.
Geingob assured the business community in France that his country offers a conducive macro-economic and competitive business environment.
“We understand that foreign direct invest will not come in the country without a globally competitive business environment. We have made significant efforts to address a number of bottlenecks in the business environment, including removing the red tape and simplifying the business registration process.
“Most importantly, we have enacted the Investment Promotion Act that provides for among others, investor incentives and protection, as well as provisions of dispute resolution mechanisms in the event of a dispute over an investment.
“The investment incentives introduced in key areas of our economy combined with the conducive macro-economic environment have enhanced the confidence of foreign investors to do business in Namibia,” he said.
He added that: “Namibia is intent on building a robust and inclusive economy characterised by sustained growth. We aim to achieve this through partnerships with the business community of France, through the establishment of win-win partnerships.”