Tinomuda Chakanyuka, Senior Reporter
THE Namibian Ambassador to Zimbabwe has hailed Zimbabwe’s education sector saying it ranks among the best in Africa and continues to produce a labour force to reckon with at both regional and international level.
Ambassador Balbina Daes Piennar told Sunday News that Zimbabwe’s high literacy rate of 92 percent was a sign of the Government’s commitment towards education.
She was speaking after President Mugabe and his Namibian counterpart President Hage Geingob toured the Namibian stand at the 58th edition of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair on Friday.
Ambassador Piennar said her country will continue seeking ways to strengthen existing relations with Zimbabwe in the area of manpower development. Namibia has hundreds of students enrolled at various Zimbabwean universities studying towards different academic qualifications.
“Our bilateral relations with Zimbabwe have always been good and both countries continue to benefit. On the education front we have a number of our students studying at Zimbabwean universities and colleges. We have over 50 students at the School of Hospitality and Tourism, about 100 at Midlands State University, another 100 or more at Great Zimbabwe University.
Zimbabwe’s education system is among the best in Africa. With a literacy rate of 92 percent, the highest in Africa you can see that Zimbabwe has done a lot of investment in education,” she said.
Ambassador Piennar’s daughter also studied in Zimbabwe. The Namibian envoy described Zimbabwe as a friendly and all-weather sister nation which her country will remain open to working with in exchanging expertise and manpower.
“Right now we have a whole group of Zimbabwean professionals working back home in Namibia in the area of infrastructure development. It is because of the strong bilateral relations that we have with Zimbabwe that we are able to have such exchanges in expertise. Zimbabwe remains a friendly sister nation to us and for that reason we remain open to strengthening the relations that exist between the two countries,” she said.
Ambassador Piennar also urged Zimbabwe and Namibia to continuously seek new ways of enhancing existing relations to optimise trade and investment between the two countries. She said African countries should work towards deepening trade relations to facilitate continental integration.
“We should strengthen our efforts to strengthen the already existing bond between Zimbabwe and Namibia which has grown immensely over the past five years. Economic diplomacy is the way to go these days for African countries to optimise trade and investment among themselves. As Namibia we will continue using such platforms as the ZITF to create linkages, business networks and business opportunities to enhance the already existing trade relations with Zimbabwe,” she said.
The Namibian envoy said her country was looking at increasing the presence of its fish and fish products on the Zimbabwean market as the demand for the products by locals was encouraging. Namibia’s flagship fish product Horse Mackerel has already started penetrating the Zimbabwean market and was on display at the ZITF.
“The product is already on the shelves in Zimbabwe but we are looking at ways of increasing its presence.
“We have a lot of diversification in our fish industry and there is encouraging demand of the products which we have to meet.
We are using this platform to market our products,” she said.
This year Namibia increased its presence at the just ended ZITF with 10 companies from the country participating. Trade between Zimbabwe and Namibia has steadily rose over the years with data from the Walvis Bay Corridor Group indicating that trade volumes through the port of Walvis Bay have grown significantly to 2 500 tonnes per month.
Walvis Bay harbour has become a significant entry point for goods destined for Zimbabwe, with imports of vehicles and textiles as the most notable.