Good afternoon, and welcome!
Today, I am delighted to celebrate the 243rd anniversary of the Independence of the United States of America among friends here in Namibia.
You honor us by joining us. Thank you.
I also want to thank the Old Wheelers Club for the fantastic venue and food, and our sponsors for their generous contributions. I hope you all are enjoying our vintage setting and “American Diner” theme, and trust me… the tastiest parts are yet to come!
On Independence Day, Americans around the world celebrate the shared values that define our nation’s identity. We reaffirm our commitment to the fundamental rights enshrined in our Declaration of Independence – the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These same rights are articulated in the preamble of the Namibian Constitution.
These values we hold in common form the very foundation of the strong U.S.-Namibia relationship.
In March 1990, the United States recognized Namibia’s independence and our two governments signed a memorandum to enable Peace Corps Volunteers to assist in Namibia’s development. Dedicating two years of their lives to working alongside Namibians as genuine members of their communities, modeling equality and respect, Peace Corps Volunteers represent the core principles of the U.S.-Namibia partnership. From 1990 until today, more than 1,800 Volunteers have honored that commitment to Namibia.
America’s commitment to Namibia is expressed in many ways. The number and variety of our people-to-people connections is what makes our partnership so enduring.
Our shared value for life is why, over the past 15 years, the United States has invested more than one billion U.S. dollars in Namibia through the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief, known as PEPFAR. Our partnership with the Ministry of Health and Social Services has brought the AIDS pandemic from crisis to control, and reduced the yearly number of AIDS-related deaths in Namibia by half.
We have placed special emphasis on the well-being of adolescent girls and young women through the DREAMS program, which keeps girls in school, provides health education, and supports them through mentoring networks.
Our efforts to improve Namibian lives goes beyond HIV/AIDS. Together, our public health experts are curing tuberculosis, educating about Hepatitis-E, and stopping cervical cancer before it takes hold.
And our interest in safeguarding all lives is reflected in U.S. sponsorship of over 500 Namibian officials for training courses at the International Law Enforcement Academy.
Secondly, our shared value for “liberty” is reflected in our efforts to defend human rights and ensure fundamental equalities.
Together, Namibia and the United States have been effective partners in combatting trafficking in persons. Earlier this year, our joint collaboration with the International Organization for Migration resulted in the launch of the National Referral Mechanism and the awareness-raising campaign.
Along the same lines, our judicial experts collaborate to ensure basic liberties and the rule of law. Last week, three American judges and several attorneys conducted a workshop in Windhoek to help strengthen prosecution of domestic and gender-based violence cases. Human trafficking and gender-based violence are challenges both our nations face.
We also share common ground in recognizing that empowering women – economically, politically, and socially – is essential to creating sustainable and prosperous societies.
I applaud Namibia for its promotion of gender equality, its female political participation, and its successful hosting of the Women, Peace and Security Global Focal Point Network meeting.
A third shared value is the pursuit of happiness, including its many forms that aim to increase individual and collective prosperity.
This is manifested, for example, in more than 25 U.S. government-sponsored exchange programs that enable our two nations to transfer knowledge, share best practices, and build capacity, such as the Mandela Washington Fellows Program.
It also is represented by U.S. investments in wildlife conservation. U.S. assistance helped establish Namibia’s system of communal conservancies, which enable communities to benefit from wildlife. Today, the United States has more than 19 million dollars invested to stop poaching and help safeguard Namibia’s natural heritage and wealth. This pillar of our partnership helps the tourism industry benefit countless Namibians.
And finally, in support of Namibia’s development goals, the United States actively promotes private sector-led growth, including through trade and investment, as the way to create jobs and mutual economic prosperity. For example, through Power Africa, we are working to accelerate energy sector investment and increase electricity supply and access.
The U.S. model of partnership with Namibia offers sustainable, empowering avenues for human capital development. In this manner, both our nations are stronger, our people are better off, and our futures are brighter.
In that spirit, I would like to propose a toast on behalf of the government and people of the United States of America: To the continued good health and success of His Excellency Dr. Hage Geingob, President of the Republic of Namibia, and to the governments and peoples of our two great nations.
Happy U.S. Independence!