Stop importing labour - Kandjoze

31 July 2019 | Labour

Economic planning minister and National Planning Commission (NPC) director-general, Obeth Kandjoze, has made a “brotherly plea” to the Chinese government to minimise the use of Chinese labour on infrastructure projects in Namibia.

He said this would allow for more Namibians to be employed.

Kandjoze said at the moment Namibians “seem to be on the lower end of benefits” when it comes to construction and other projects.

He said Namibia would like to see the entrenchment of the much-vaunted “win-win” relationship between the two countries, where cooperation intersects. Kandjoze was speaking at a dialogue with the local media, initiated by the Chinese embassy, on the audaciously ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

This sentiment was echoed by Dietrich Remmert, research associate of the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), who emphasised that Namibia's “genuine” private sector (and not necessarily government institutions), should become more involved in infrastructure projects yet to be identified under the BRI.

The BRI is the brainchild of Chinese president Xi Jinping who put forward the idea in 2013 to build a “silk road economic belt” that runs through Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and the Americas.

Namibia signed up for the BRI in September last year during a Beijing summit. Forty African countries have so far signed up to it. Globally, more than 150 have signed cooperation agreements with China to build the BRI, Chinese ambassador to Namibia, Zhang Yiming, said.

As far as Namibia is concerned, it is not yet clear which road and other infrastructure projects are envisaged under this plan, or what the funding and/or cooperation parameters will look like, something that Renner said is required to make a proper analysis of the BRI. While such detail is still missing, political analyst Dr Henning Melber described the BRI as Chinese global expansion that seeks to tie many countries “into a web of Chinese-influenced (or rather dominated) trade networks”.

He said the ambitious infrastructure plans and investment are “not necessarily bad for collaborating countries, since it enhances access to the world market for their commodities”.

However, Melber said, in tendency the BRI “once again reinforces the established patters of unequal trade by exporting raw materials and importing manufactured goods”.

“To that extent the BRI will enhance the flow of goods, but not make fundamental changes to the asymmetric exchange relations,” Melber said.

Zhang said the BRI “is a road leading to peace”, which “upholds the principles of win-win cooperation, respecting the development path choices of all countries, and non-interference in other countries' domestic affairs”.

“THE BRI will not duplicate the Western power's way of geopolitical manoeuvring,” Yiming said.

He said China will work with Africa to create more synergy between China-Africa cooperation under the BRI and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), and offer more assistance to Africa to “improve connectivity, business environment and trade quality”.

He said Namibia “with its stable political situation, sound legal system, vast land, abundant resources and a unique location advantage”, can greatly benefit from the BRI to become the logistics hub of southern Africa, which government leaders have been advocating for years.


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