Brazilians cancel Namibia trip over Ebola fears
WINDHOEK - The Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) is worried that the presence of the deadly Ebola virus in West Africa might affect commercial activities between Namibia and countries outside the African continent.
Last week a 10-member business delegation from Brazil that was scheduled to arrive in the country next week postponed its planned visit over fears that they might contract Ebola, which continues to wreak havoc in West Africa.
This is despite the fact that no cases of Ebola have been reported in southern Africa thus far. The group was supposed to be hosted by the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI), Namibia Investment Centre and the Walvis Bay Corridor Group between 18 - 23 August.
NCCI Chief Executive Officer, Tarah Shaanika, yesterday urged the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other United Nations agencies to do more to provide accurate information to the international community on the matter and urged African states to continue with their efforts to mitigate the deadly virus that has already killed nearly 1 000 people since its latest outbreak.
“We are very concerned as the NCCI regarding the perception of the international community about Africa, and we feel that this can affect commercial activities between Namibia and the rest of the world because investors and business delegations may cancel their trips to Namibia, thinking the country is also affected,” he said.
NCCI said in a statement last week: “Unfortunately, the intense coverage by the international press about Ebola has raised severe concerns about travelling to Africa among many people and as a result the Brazilian business delegation decided to postpone this trip.”
According to the NCCI “the delegation received the necessary explanation from their tour operator and also from the local organizers of the mission about the distance from the contaminated area, the whole measures and concerns to avoid the dissemination in Namibia, however several individuals decided to cancel their participation due to concern from their families, partners and companies and had no other option but to postpone the mission.”
NCCI said it remained hopeful that the meeting would be rescheduled.
The delegation was expected to explore business opportunities and establish external partnerships with their Namibian counterparts in areas such as metallurgy, hospital refrigeration for blood, hats and caps manufacturing, agronomical and technological investments, paving equipment for road construction and asphalt, mechanics focused on water pumping for power generation and agricultural irrigation.
Most African states have taken precautionary measures to prevent the spread of Ebola as well as to mitigate it, said Shaanika, adding that this should be an assurance to those who wish to travel to countries where the virus is not yet found to be present.
“There is a perception among the international community that Africa is one big country, therefore they are under the impression that since there is Ebola in Nigeria, it is also in southern Africa.
“In most cases the international community is not accurately informed – the international media are also not helpful in this regard because they exaggerate things when it comes to Africa,” said Shaanika.
Last week the World Health Organization announced that the death toll from the latest Ebola outbreak in West Africa increased to 932.
Guinea, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Nigeria are the countries in which the Ebola virus has been confirmed so far.
As of last Wednesday, the health ministry in Guinea announced a total of 495 suspected and confirmed cases of Ebola, including 367 fatal cases.
Liberia’s health ministry announced 554 suspected and confirmed cases, including 294 fatalities.
The Nigerian health ministry reported 13 suspected cases and two fatal cases.
Sierra Leone on the other hand, announced 717 suspected and confirmed cases, including 631 laboratory confirmations and 298 fatal cases.
By Mathias Haufiku"