Accra: Founding President Dr. Sam Nujoma says Namibia and Ghana should scrap visa requirements in order to expand and ensure smooth trade between the two countries. The Founding President currently visiting Ghana’s capital Accra on Wednesday said, 'There should be no visa requirements (between the two countries if trade development is to take place)'. Dr. Nujoma made the statement during a meeting between the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) and the Ghanaian National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GNCCI).
The Founding President, accompanied by business personalities representing Paragon Investment, J & P Group, a private medical doctor interested in pharmaceuticals and consulting firm Venture Publications is in the country to celebrate the first anniversary of Air Namibia’s Windhoek-Accra route.
'We have brought Namibian men and women and products so that they can form joint ventures,' Dr. Nujoma said, and added that the idea is to exchange and increase intra-African trade that will build the continent the forefathers had always wanted to see.
The two countries are eager to trade in different areas but one of the hiccups businesses have encountered has been the long time it takes to process visas in both countries. He also suggested that all member states of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) should scrap of visa requirements between their respective countries.
He said the red tape that accompanies the processing of visa applications has been one of the main obstacles to exploiting Africa’s untapped business potential.
Dr. Nujoma encouraged the two countries to embark on joint scientific research efforts in order to exploit the continent’s vast and untapped resources. He added that education and training are key in fighting illiteracy, which largely has contributed to the status quo of unexplored resources.
'We should use our brains to fight illiteracy. Africa is the richest continent. Europe and the Americas are finished. We should educate our children and produce our own scientists and marine biologists,' said the Founding Father to thundering applause.
Currently, there is no significant trade taking place between Namibia and Ghana, but Namibia believes there are many areas of trade that can be exploited.
NCCI Chief Executive Officer Tarah Shaanika acknowledged the potential for higher levels of trade between the two nations and further stressed the need for both Namibian and Ghanaian businesses to interact. 'Trade between Namibia and Ghana is almost negligible,' commented Shaanika.
Products Namibia is ready to export to Ghana include beef, grapes, beer and fish. Other areas of potential investment according to Shaanika include mining (exploration in Uranium), agriculture (the green schemes), tourism, energy and pharmaceuticals.
On the other hand, Ghana says can trade in products such as cocoa, gold, timber, pineapples, energy and infrastructure development.
Meanwhile, Namibia’s Acting High Commissioner to West Africa (Sierra Leon, Nigeria, Gambia, Liberia and Ghana) Cleopas Pohamba Akweenda described trade volumes between Namibia and West Africa as minimal. Currently, Namibia exports only salt and fish to Ghana and Nigeria. Annually, Namibia exports about 200 metric tonnes of salt to the two West African countries.
The Acting High Commissioner added that Namibia would like to expand that metric tonnage to 500. 'Nigeria is a country of about 150 million people and they love fish and we are trying to explore ways that will lead to trading in that area,' Akweenda told the Windhoek Observer.
He cited the visa regime and double taxation as some of the stumbling blocks businesses from both countries face. Further, Namibian businesses who want to import products from Ghana often have to involve a middleman from South Africa to facilitate the flow of goods and that situation creates additional risks.
'There is that fear….business people need assurance that they will get the money on delivery of goods so there should be a court to report to if goods for example go bad…there is a need to know who should take responsibility,' he stressed.
Akweenda, Namibia’s Acting High Commissioner to West Africa says there have been talks with different West African countries on what products they could trade with Namibia. He described the response so far as positive, but governments still had to negotiate the way forward.