President Hage Geingob and his counterpart from Botswana Mokgweetsi Masisi on Sunday held a closed-door meeting at State House that focused on assessing the implementation strategies on decisions taken from the inaugural session of the Bi-National Commission between the two countries.
The inaugural Botswana-Namibia Bi- National Commission, which took place late last year, underscored the need to strengthen and broaden areas of cooperation between the two countries.
On his official Twitter account, Geingob said, “one can choose a friend, but one doesn’t choose a neighbour”, referencing Masisi’s visit.
“Namibia and Botswana are more than friends. In that spirit, president Masisi and I discussed today our bilateral relations that we continue to scale up for the prosperity of our people,” he added.
Speaking to New Era on Monday, Namibia’s minister of international relations and cooperation Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah said the Sunday meeting focused on whether decisions taken from the BNC are being adequately implemented and to pave the way forward for the year.
“Progress reports on decisions taken are ready, and we are making good progress, which is to be submitted to both the heads of state. There are agreements to be signed this year between the two states, meaning everything is looking bright for the future. We looked at different areas of regional concern like youth unemployment and trade enhancement, among others,” said Nandi-Ndaitwah.
Some of the bilateral instruments between the two countries include agreements on cooperation in the area of trade, industrial development, investment and sport development, establishing a one-stop border post (OSBP) at Mamuno and Trans Kalahari Border Posts, agreement on the interstate transfer of sentenced persons and agreement on cooperation in the agricultural, livestock and agri-food sectors.
The international relations minister reiterated that youth unemployment is one of the priority discussions for the states.
As such, both countries aim to understand and devise recommendations on how the market can absorb the hordes of unemployed youth.
The 2018 National Labour Force Survey results pointed to an increased need to address youth unemployment, which is estimated to have increased from 43% in 2016 to 46% by 2018.
The most recent figures from the Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA) indicate Namibia’s overall unemployment rate dropped from 34% in 2016 to 33.4% in 2018.
Nandi-Ndaitwah added outstanding agreements would be signed by the mid-term review in 2023.
From this weekend’s meeting, Nandi- Ndaitwah noted the importance of people-to-people linkages and reiterated the urgency of implementing the usage of national identity cards (ID) to facilitate cross-border movements of people along the common border, and also of goods between the two countries.
“The One Stop Border Post (OSBP) at Mamuno/Trans Kalahari Border Post is one area that made good progress in fast-tracking the construction of associated infrastructure. Together with the OSBP at the Kazungula Bridge, these developments contribute to maximising the operational efficiency of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) transport development corridors, namely the Trans-Kalahari and North-South corridors, which are part of the regional integration agenda,” she said.
Furthermore, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah noted the Russia-Ukraine conflict was a lesson learned in that neighbouring countries should work together to harness the ability to become self-sufficient in terms of food security.
After the meeting, Masisi said: “It is our duty to accelerate collaborative programmes that are in place, thus I’m in Namibia”.
Masisi was accompanied by his minister of foreign affairs, Lemogang Kwape, assistant minister for state president, Dumezweni Mthimkhulu, and other senior government officials.