Former diplomat, ambassador Kaire Mbuende says there is a need for African countries to assert their independence on the global stage to avoid being treated like beggars when seeking to tap into resources.
Mbeunde said this in the wake of president Hage Geingob’s statement at the 78th United Nations General Assembly (Unga) on the issue of vaccine apartheid and nations in the northern hemisphere’s general perception of Africa when it comes to investment and the manufacturing of vaccines in the global South.
Speaking on the adoption of a political declaration by the Unga on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response, Geingob reiterated that pandemics have long been formidable adversaries which disproportionately wreak havoc on the socio-economic fabric of developing countries.
“These crises go beyond their immediate health implications, unravelling years of developing progress, staining healthcare systems and exacerbating existing socio-economic disparities.
“We need to change the status quo. To do so we must end vaccine apartheid,” Geingob said.
The president stressed the need for equitable access to healthcare products, with stronger commitments from healthy countries on technology transfer and the removal of intellectual property barriers.
Weighing in on the issue, Mbuende says the questions of technology and resources are key, citing that talks on these matters should dwell on mechanisms to make some of these technologies affordable.
“These are the challenges of developing countries,” he says.
In an interview with Desert Radio this week, Mbuende said while the developed world continues to talk about multilateralism, these countries are not trying to take full advantage of what they and Africa could bring to the table once Africa has unleashed its full potential.
“I think the developed world will stand to benefit from a developed Africa capable of contributing to global affairs, more than from the Africa dependent on development aid, for example.
“Therefore there should be a drive for a partnership that transforms the economy of Africa,” he said.
Mbuende said Africa has a lot to offer on the global stage, apart from its natural resources that are finite, and that any hindrance is due to countries having a “backwards lean” and not being sufficiently open to development.
“We do not have to be beggars.
“Firstly, we allow our natural resources to be exploited without claiming a stake in them.
“For example, when you talk about oil discovery Namibia, the question is: Who owns the oil in Namibia and what is our share?” he asked.
“If we, in Africa, could leverage what we have, they would be on their knees begging.
“The capacity of Africa to defend itself is what it boils down to at the end of the day.
“We are not leveraging our resources in economic or political terms,” he said.
“It is also a question of leadership. I see the leadership of presidents Hage Geingob and Cyril Ramaphosa in terms of articulating these issues.
“But those sentiments must be backed up with action that says: If you come to Namibia, do not expect to walk on a red carpet, but expect tough negotiations on issues of interest to Namibia, like access to uranium or oil,” he said.
“This thing of believing foreign investors have technology and capital, and therefore the natives, should be condemned,” Mbuende said.
“The world has changed. You can play one against the other. By doing so you will be able to assert your independence while dealing with different countries,” he said.