Meeting with the President of Namibia

During our time in Namibia, we had exceptional the opportunity to meet with his Excellency President Geingob and Madame Geingoss at the state house in Windhoek. It was an incredible experience to hear from the third President of the country. As we drove up the hill on the way to the state house, it was hard not to be intimidated by the dark grey building. It had very few windows. In the middle of the courtyard, there was a tall pillar with a large statue of an eagle. The eagle’s wings were spread wide and it looked as it if was swooping towards us as we entered. His Excellency was open and candid in speaking to us about what role the government can play to bolster Namibia in Southern Africa and the world. His Excellency’s primary objective in the first two years of his presidency is focused around freedom of people and freedom and press. He was adamant that without freedom, people don’t engage in the economy and don’t prosper. He is also focused on a plan for prosperity that includes building a large port to transform Namibia into a service economy. The Walvis Bay expansion project is going to double the port’s capacity and provide access of goods to land locked countries such as Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and DRC. This huge investment in the country has the potential to close the trade deficit for Namibia. Second, he spoke about transparency. His Excellency is the first politician to divulge his assets to the people of Namibia. He believes that being an open book to the people will invite the people of Namibia to trust the government instead of resenting their power. The Namibian nation is only 23 years old. It was, as his excellency put it, birthed by the United Nations after decades of oppressive apartheid regime. This transparency, along with his fight against corruption will allow the country to maintain the peace and harmony it has fostered in its short time as a nation. Finally, he is focused on harmony among different groups within the country. He fosters this type of harmony through inclusivity. He makes himself available to the people and holds town hall forums and engages with the public. He believes that if you exclude people form the economy, it foresters conflict. Since we are MIT students, he left us with a simple yet compelling formula for success in Namibia: T+A=T. Transparency plus accountability equals trust. This trust is exceptionally important for the citizens of Namibia but also for foreign investors in the country. If the country’s credit rating gets downgraded, it will suffer a steep recession that it won’t recover from for several years.

An official picture of our study tour group, President Geingob, and his wife Madame Geingos. The picture was posted to his Twitter account — he’s a very active president on social media!

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