With the end of 2023 drawing near, President Hage Geingob and his administration reflected on the events of the year yesterday.
During a press briefing held in the capital, the government discussed both the achievements attained and the challenges that lie ahead.
Central to these discussions is Namibia’s green transition, a matter which has attracted the attention of international energy stakeholders. Geingob pointed to this as a key highlight of the year.
Despite initial scepticism surrounding the green hydrogen project, he gave the reassurance
that green hydrogen is a future climate mitigation source.
“Namibia is leading; we should be proud that people are coming to us to talk about green hydrogen and
oil. We are a factor, believe it or not, and we must act that way,” he enthused.
Geingob also pointed out the groundbreaking launch of Identity Documents (IDs) as travel documents between Namibia and Botswana, marking a first in the southern part of the continent. This initiative facilitates trade in goods and services, as well as the easier movement of people along the common border. Looking ahead, he expressed plans to extend similar arrangements with Zambia and Angola for enhanced regional mobility.
In April this year, Geingob visited South Africa at the invitation of president Cyril Ramaphosa. The discussions centred on the long-standing issue of the Orange River, spanning approximately 600 kilometres, which has been a point of contention since Namibia’s independence.
Geingob questioned the South African government’s reluctance to address the matter, highlighting the differing claims to the river’s boundary.
The two governments also addressed issues about the Southern African Customs Union. (SACU)
“That is also a problem; we are like beggars there. We had to discuss that seriously because we cannot industrialise. Look at the Peugeot plant, it is closing down. As long as these SACU tariff issues are not reconciled and democratically decided as South
Africa is playing the game, we have to look at the future of SACU. Are we still together, or are people planning something else,
and we are just sitting with our hands
folded, not doing anything?” he asked concerned.
He then urged scholars to look into it.
“We are not begging anybody. Imports come, and one cannot order a car directly from Germany. A Mercedes Benz, you have to order through South Africa. These are really good neighbours? No, they are not,” he said.
In the same vein, Geingob dismissed critics about his and other government officials’ international travels, which have faced scrutiny over substantial claims in S&T.
He said with his ill-health, he does not enjoy travelling, but he has a duty to fulfil.
Thus, the focus on “money” is misplaced.
“Look at me as I am standing here. I am not feeling well, now you want to tell me I enjoy travelling and sitting in that plane, at my age? I am travelling because I have to; what is S&T to me? Some of you don’t know me well. I have been working and put in places that are making me more money. I resigned and came back; it’s not a question of
money. If I give you the amounts, the comrades will collapse and be like, you were getting all that money? Greed is not what is motivating us, we are trying to serve,” he emphasised.
“These attacks on ministers about cars, what is a car? It is a means to deliver.
There are bigger things we can talk about,” he added.
As far as green hydrogen is concerned, its commissioner James Mnyupe said the country has to create close to 500 000 jobs to achieve Vision 2030.
The government aims to reduce the
current high unemployment rate to 2,3% in less than eight years.
“Everybody knows Namibia has one of the highest levels of inequality in the world, and Vision 2030 is challenging us to change that significantly,” he said.
Deputy Prime Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, on her part, said over 300 000 households in three regions continue to receive food and water assistance. Through disaster risk management, the government spent over N$100 million, with food assistance to the value of N$67 million and water provision of N$50 million, on these households.
Nandi-Ndaitwah addressed the media, alongside other Cabinet ministers and President Geingob yesterday morning to provide an update on service delivery during this year.