Intra-African trade must become the new economic paradigm for the continent, as it will help stimulate economic growth and improve the continent's capacity to resolve its own challenges.
This was the message from President Jacob Zuma and his Namibian counterpart, President Hage Geingob, who are meeting in Pretoria for the 2nd Session of the South Africa-Namibia Bi-National Commission (BNC).
The session is, among other things, discussing measures to strengthen trade and investment ties in the fields of transport, health, education, science and technology, agriculture, immigration and energy.
In his opening addressing at the start of the session, President Zuma said the two countries need to prioritise economic cooperation, focusing on projects that are consistent with the SADC Revised Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) and the Southern African Customs Union transformation agenda.
"It is in the interest of the region that we work hard to increase intra-regional trade based on the complementarities that exist between our countries," said President Zuma.
The RISDP is a comprehensive development and implementation framework guiding the regional integration agenda of SADC until 2020. It is designed to provide clear strategic direction with respect to SADC programmes, projects and activities in line with the SADC common agenda and strategic priorities.
The ultimate objective of the plan is to deepen integration in the region with a view to accelerate poverty eradication and the attainment of other economic and non-economic development goals.
President Hage said two countries must correct the imbalance in trade relations between the two countries, while developing potential synergies to harness trade with other African States.
South Africa is the source of 66% of Namibia's imports and is responsible for approximately 80% of investments in key industries such as mining, retail, banking agriculture and insurance.
Imports from Namibia stood at R6 481 614 826, while exports to Namibia were at R52 862 722 906 last year.
"We should not only focus on pursuing win-win relationships with our international partners, but let us pursue and build win-win partnerships amongst ourselves as neighbours, as friends and as Africans," said President Hage.
He shared the same message on Thursday at the Invest in Namibia international conference in Johannesburg. The conference was attended by business leaders as well as Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe and Gauteng Premier David Makhura.
Today's BNC will also assess progress in the implementation of bilateral projects and exchange views on issues of mutual concern so parties can work together to find solutions.
There are currently 71 signed agreements and Memoranda of Understanding between the two countries.
"This meeting underscores our collective commitment to the consolidation of our bilateral cooperation and strategic partnership. The BNC provides us with a platform to assess progress in all areas of cooperation and most importantly, it provides us with an opportunity to expand the areas of cooperation for the mutual benefits our respective countries and peoples," said President Zuma.
President Hage called on the Ministers to work hard towards the implementation of the signed agreements.
"The problem in Africa is that we have beautiful policies on glossy paper but they gather dust. Our charge with this BNC is not to wait until the last minute to implement the projects We must strive to use our friendship to create favourable conditions for our people."
The Namibian delegation also used the opportunity to thank the South African government for drought relief.
"This is proof of good neighbourliness. This is what the big brother does for the small ones," said President Hage.
The delegations from the two countries are currently locked in a session. They will later sign a MoU in the field of higher education and brief the media later.
Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK