The Republic of Namibia in southwestern coastal Africa is considering opening a commercial office in Atlanta, although it’s too early to say with certainty if or when such an office would be established, Patrick Nandago, Namibia’s ambassador to the United States, told GlobalAtlanta.

Following up on an April 2006 business delegation to Atlanta led by the country’s first Prime Minister Hage Gottfried, Mr. Nandago recently made a five-day visit to Atlanta, where he met with various city officials in hopes of fostering a better economic relationship between his country and Atlanta.

“My main purpose in coming to Atlanta was to look at business opportunities here and to sell opportunities available in Namibia to Atlanta entrepreneurs,” Mr. Nandago said.

Mr. Nandago, who has been in the U.S. for a little over a year, said that his visit was part of a broader strategy to bring economic relations up to par with the healthy diplomatic ties between the two countries.

Namibia, a largely agricultural country known for its rich mineral deposits, wants to diversify its economy and develop its infrastructure by attracting manufacturing centers and construction companies from the U.S., he said.

“We are a country that produces what we do not consume and consume what is made in other countries. We are trying to change that approach,” he said, noting Namibia wants to become a provider of “added-value” manufacturing services on its own soil.

The ambassador came at the request of Tunde Adetunji, in part to explore possibilities for Namibian involvement in the upcoming USA-Africa Bridging the Gap, Building the Bridge conference, which will be held in Atlanta Oct. 26-27.

Mr. Adetunji, who founded the Africa World Museum and Center in Atlanta more than 10 years ago in preparation for the 1996 Olympic Games, personally invited Mr. Nandago to Atlanta after the former prime minister’s visit last year.

The museum honored Mr. Nandago and his country at a reception, during which the ambassador received the African Heritage Evergreen Award from Mr. Adetunji on behalf of Namibia’s president.

Mr. Adetunji stressed that the ambassador’s visit further marks Atlanta as a central point in the movement for unity among African nations, and he said that Mr. Nandago “pledged his country’s participation” in the upcoming business conference.

“The ambassador said that his country would promote our initiatives with the U.S.-Africa conference and all the initiatives we have going on in Atlanta,” said Mr. Adetunji, who is also the president of the Africa Heritage Foundation Inc.

Mr. Nandago and Mr. Adetunji met with Jorge Fernandez, vice president for global commerce at the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, to talk about the conference.

In addition to the conference, Mr. Nandago pursued a variety of other objectives during his short stay in Atlanta.

The ambassador had what he called a “very productive” meeting with Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, and he met with Nell Diallo, managing director of non-profit organization MedShare International, to consider opportunities for his country to benefit from donated medical equipment.

He also discussed the possibility of promoting Namibia tourism with representatives from the Atlanta chapter of the Association for the Promotion of Tourism to Africa.

Mr. Nandago said that the “population of wild game is more than the human population” in Namibia, a country of 2 million people that is home to some of the finest beef and the highest sand dunes in the world, according to the ambassador.

Janet Russell, president of the tourism association’s Atlanta chapter, said that Namibia is popular among Europeans but largely undiscovered by Americans. Ms. Russell said she “learned a lot” after having lunch with the ambassador and that her organization will work hard to promote Namibia to African travel specialists.

“I have extended an invitation to the Ambassador to return to Atlanta in early 2008 as part of a Namibia program with APTA,” she told GlobalAtlanta in an email.

Namibia is looking to establish honorary consulates in major cities across the U.S., and Mr. Nandago said that Atlanta is being considered for addition to a list that already includes Detroit, Houston and Orlando, Fla.

Story Contacts, Links and Related Stories
“USA-Africa Bridging the Gap, Building the Bridge” conference –
Chief Tunde Adetunji (404) 588-0486

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