Windhoek-Angola has promised to honour its outstanding N$2.6 billion financial obligations to Namibia in a 2015 currency conversion agreement that saw Angola unable to pay over on time the billions owed to Namibia.
The governor of Angola’s central bank, Banco Naçional de Angola (BNA), Valter Filipe da Silva, promised President Hage Geingob that despite the ongoing economic challenges facing his country, Angola would continue to honour its repayment schedule.
Accordimg to Bank of Namibia deputy governor Ebson Uanguta, BoN received about US$51 million (approximately N$661 million) from the BNA last week.
“There are still four payments to be done. Two will be done this year and two will be done early next year. What is remaining now is slightly an amount of about US$200 million (N$2.6 billion),” Uanguta said, emphasising that all payments made by the BNA were as per the payment schedule.
Da Silva visited Geingob at State House on Friday, where he revealed that the traditionally oil dependent Angola is on a major drive to diversify its economic portfolio and is looking to its neighbours to assist in venturing into alternative yet sustainable industries.
In response, President Geingob said although the currency conversion agreement was condemned by many, the agreement is worthwhile and will come in handy during financial difficulties in both countries.
The president further suggested that the two countries renegotiate the cement sales agreement which currently limits the amount of cement Namibia can export to Angola. “I know that southern Angola will need cement and we have to revisit this agreement,” said Geingob.
The curency conversion agreement between BNA and Bank of Namibia aimed to address declining trade particularly at the once thriving trading hub of Oshikango. A shortage of US dollars, which contributed to the decline in trade, prompted the currency conversion agreement. At the beginning of 2017 the two central banks renegotiated the re-payment schedule for the approximate N$4 billion debt Angola owed Namibia following the currency exchange agreement that went wrong in 2015.
Da Silva said the ongoing oil crisis in his country is actually an opportunity to diversify its economy, specifically by strengthening bilateral agreements with neighbouring countries such as Namibia.
“Our ongoing economic difficulties can be overcome by focusing on agriculture and establishing and boosting our industrial parks,” said Da Silva, who was accompanied by BNA board members.
Da Silva asked for assistance from Namibia to boost agricultural production, particularly in the meat processing industry where he requested an increase in the number of live animals to be exported to Angola as that country aims to limit the amount of beef it imports from other countries like their traditional trading partner Brazil.
Geingob further noted that all countries in the region can improve regional integration by adding value to their resources. Geingob said Namibia and Angola were “destined by fate” to be brothers and sisters.
“We will help each other overcome the fight for economic emancipation just like we did during the liberation struggle,” said Geingob.
Da Silva also requested assistance to improve Angola’s agricultural operations, saying Angolan and Namibian cooperation needs to be strengthened “because families in both countries depend on this cooperation”.