21 March 1990, Namibia entered the international community of nations as an independent country. Over the past 31 years, Namibia has executed a foreign policy strategy based on a diplomatic footprint that has grown in leaps and bounds with the objective of strengthening the foundations of peace, progress and economic prosperity in the Namibian House. Moreover, Namibia has made use of its diplomatic presence in favour of tangible contributions to the maintenance of peace, security and human progress. During his inauguration as the third President of the Republic of Namibia, President Hage G. Geingob articulated his vision through the metaphor of a Namibian House in order to accelerate the creation of the necessary conditions that would lead to the material improvement of all Namibians. Notwithstanding the achievements of the previous Presidencies, every place of dwelling needs constant maintenance to fortify it against natural wear and tear and, where necessary, to accommodate the demands of a growing family.
Over the past six years, which have been challenging due to persistent droughts, slow economic growth occasioned by the global commodity crisis, the diplomatic footprint of the Government in line with the Harambee Prosperity Plan I was geared towards guaranteeing the national interest against independent intervening variables, of which some emanate from the regional, continental and global environments. Through the implementation of the Policy on International Relations and Cooperation of 2016 and Harambee Prosperity Plan II, the Government has continued to spare no efforts to maximize the benefits it derives from its diplomatic engagements, and in particular, economic diplomacy, in order to advance the socio-economic conditions of the inhabitants of the Namibian House.
The International Relations and Cooperation Pillar under HPPI was implemented under difficult conditions. Similarly, its implementation under the HPPII will unfortunately be implemented under more challenging conditions with COVID-19 posing grave risks to the economic growth agenda of the past six years. This implies bolder and urgent execution of plans through better prioritization and “doing more with less”. In continuity with HPPI, and in light of the emergent challenges, Pillar 5 will continue to harness Namibia’s diplomacy in favour of economic recovery and growth.
The strength and foundation of our economic diplomacy rests at the national level. The objective of national development, which is at the centre of economic diplomacy is described and outlined in Vision 2030 and the successive NDPs, the Growth at Home Strategy, the Policy on International Relations and Cooperation, the SWAPO Party manifesto and various other policy statements and legal frameworks put in place since 1990. In leveraging our economic diplomacy, critical sectors in the green economy, mining, tourism, information and communication technology and the blue economy will be reprioritized in order to create employment opportunities for sustained economic growth.
Under HPPI, the Government undertook to ensure that Namibia continues to be a respectable and trusted member of the international community by honouring its obligations and for the international community to support its efforts of translating political independence into economic independence. These goals were pursued through various strategies, thereby enabling the country to gain global respect and raising its diplomatic profile, especially at the multilateral level. To buttress the successful execution of the foreign policy strategy and a growing diplomatic profile, Namibia serves on several continental and global initiatives, including the High-Level Panel on the Sustainable Ocean Economy and the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI).
Namibia reaffirmed and resolutely defended multilateralism, primarily through membership of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN), and has contributed to the resolution of political disputes and conflict management abroad. Tangibly, during the period of HPPI, President Geingob Chaired SADC, with Namibia playing an important role in the successful conclusion of the 2018 Presidential and National Assembly elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), culminating in the first peaceful transfer of power since independence in 1960. Moreover, President Geingob used the offices of the SADC Chair to emphasize pacific elections in the Comoros Islands, Madagascar and the respect for democratic processes and institutions in SADC member states. Namibia has maintained participation in AU and UN peacekeeping missions and will continue during HPPII.
Namibia maintained firm solidarity with the people of Palestine, reiterated support to end the embargo against Cuba, condemned the counterproductive sanctions against the people of Zimbabwe and together with SADC members convened an International Solidarity Conference with the people of Western Sahara in South Africa in October 2019. Efforts to end injustice against the oppressed people of the world will remain at the centre of foreign policy during HPPII.
Guided by the desire to deliver Prosperity for All, Namibia has raised awareness at multilateral fora about the misclassification of the country, as Upper Middle Income and will continue to do so with countries that face similar development challenges arising from unfair classification until the matter is revisited.
Namibia remains committed to reducing carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere and has secured funding from the Green Climate Fund to support climate resilience for communities. The country continues to build on its association with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on the role of Women in Peace and Security. Thus, the decision to establish a Women Peace Centre in Namibia will strengthen the country’s National Action Plan in this regard and make meaningful contribution to our international responsibility under the UN Charter to promote peace and security.
The destiny of Namibia is interwoven with that of Africa and the country continues to actively participate in regional and continental integration processes through Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want and its goal of achieving “An Integrated, Prosperous and Peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena”.
Namibia is part of the global community and therefore not immune to transnational threats and global challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 has eroded some of the gains of HPPI and NDPs. During this period of global uncertainty, the way forward requires new ways of working and tangible actions to ensure economic survival. This notwithstanding, commerce and trade remain integral to the success of nations. The key challenge for Namibia’s economic diplomacy is to devise meaningful ways to strengthen the commercial and trading position of the Government for economic recovery.
To this end, Namibia will optimize its diplomatic footprint across the five continents by placing greater emphasis on economic interests, as embodied in the Policy on International Relations & Cooperation. Economic diplomacy will also have to address the structural challenges and vulnerabilities posed by the COVID-19 pandemic to the domestic economy and the integration of the country into global value chains.
Namibia’s economic diplomacy strategy is based on an integrated approach of bilateral, regional and multilateral diplomacy and cooperation, with the aim of growing exports and investment activities related to exports. On all the above, the Foreign Service is indispensable to the attainment of an increase and expansion of exports and the deepening of commercial interests with other countries.