Windhoek – U.S. Ambassador to Namibia Randy Berry traveled to the Erongo Region on April 3-5 to engage with local leaders, U.S. partners, and various communities.
During his three-day visit, Ambassador Berry met with George Botshiwe, CEO of Navachab Gold Mine, to view how mining operations support Namibia’s economy. Botshiwe took Ambassador Berry for a tour around the gold mine, sharing the history of and insights into the mines operations. The two discussed possible collaborations to create awareness and educate communities, especially in Karibib, about tuberculosis and its effects, a priority initiative under the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.
At his visit to Swakopmund, Ambassador Berry had the opportunity to meet with Peace Corps Volunteers and hear more about the work they are doing in collaboration with local community members. Volunteers shared examples of their work to address issues of importance to Namibian communities including life skills education, reduction of teen pregnancy, and entrepreneurship. Ambassador Berry also paid a courtesy call on the Erongo Governor, Honorable Neville Andre Itope. During their discussions, Governor Itope highlighted how the U.S. Embassy facilitated a meeting between the Office of the Governor and Delta Airlines as a way of resuscitating the tourism economy after the devastation caused by COVID-19 in the region. Additionally, Governor Itope thanked the Ambassador for the continuous U.S. support towards the health, education and entrepreneurship sectors of the region.
En route to Walvis Bay, Ambassador Berry visited the Namib Desert Environmental Education Trust (NaDEET), a non-profit dedicated to environmental education. Here, Ambassador Berry toured the center led by Senior Environmental Educator Pandu Haindongo and learned about the benefits of sustainable living, biodiversity and the balance between humans and the environment.
Day two of the Ambassador’s visit started off with the launch of the third cohort of the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE), a five-month program that provides women with the tools needed to create and grow their own businesses. The cohort recruited 120 participants from all 14 regions. The event was attended by the Erongo Governor, Mayor of Walvis Bay, His Worship Trevino Forbes, Mayor of Swakopmud, Her Worship Dina Namubes, and representatives from the private sector. “Investing in women entrepreneurs is just one way we partner with Namibians to build an ever more inclusive and resilient economy. And data shows that, when women entrepreneurs are successful, whole communities – men, women, and children – benefit,” Ambassador Berry mentioned during the ceremony.
Following the AWE launch, Ambassador Berry met Mr. Andrew Kanime, Chief Executive Officer of NamPort, the Namibian Port Authority, to see the operations of the port. During discussions, Ambassador Berry complimented the CEO on the impressive work of transforming Namibia’s primary port into a future leading logistical hub, citing the recent CNN segment on NamDock’s, the Namibia Drydock and Ship Repair, operations. CEO Kanime further thanked the Ambassador for the capacity-building programs focused on port security offered by the U.S. Embassy and the U.S. and EU funded Container Control Program implemented with the UNODC. Ambassador Berry then toured the various port terminals and met officials from the Namibia Revenue Agency, who gave a brief description of their operations at the port.
Thereafter, the Ambassador traveled to Kuisebmund to visit several projects supported by the U.S. government, providing health services for key populations who are at an increased risk of contracting HIV. The tour was led by the Erongo Regional Health Director, Anna Jonas, implementing partners, and staff at the Walvis Bay Corridor Group (WBCG). Ambassador Berry also visited the Kuisebmund Health Clinic to meet health care workers providing comprehensive integrated HIV, Tuberculosis, Voluntary Medical Male Circumcisions and other health services to reach epidemic control. These programs are funded by the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Ambassador Berry ended the day with a visit to the Men Power (MPower) Community Trust center. MPower is a civil society organization that was founded in 2015 and is a part of the PEPFAR-supported KP-STAR program implemented by USAID’s partner IntraHealth Namibia. MPower provides community mobilization and outreach for HIV prevention through peer educators.
At the end of the official visit to Erongo, the Ambassador had the opportunity to visit the Uiba Oas Miners cooperative located on the B2 road, about 20 kilometers west of Usakos. The organization operates a crystal market that is popular among tourists. The corporative is also a previous recipient of the Ambassador’s Special Self-Help Fund grant and obtained from the U.S. Embassy solar panels and a battery system to power their market and workshop, along with an existing refrigerator, enabling the organization to sell cool drinks to tourists, generating income for the community. The grant also provided for signs that were placed on the B2 road directing traffic to the marketplace.
When asked about his trip, Ambassador Berry was impressed by the number of operations in the Erongo region which support not only Erongo’s development, but also Namibia’s economy.