The Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) says it is irritated by the recent announcement of some European countries who say they will not receive travellers from southern African countries as a result of the new Covid-19 variant which was detected in South Africa.

NCCI president Mr Bisey Uirab said in a statement that South African scientists have to be congratulated for their breakthrough research that identified a new coronavirus variant known as Omicron.

“As the representative of Namibia’s business sector, and a champion of local economic development, although the NCCI welcomes the attention by the international community on this new Covid-19 variant, we question why there has been such a harsh and unjustified response by political leaders in developed countries in Europe,” Uirab said.

“Based on media reports it seems that the politicians in those countries took reactionary measures without even engaging in consultation with their business sector. Clearly, they are also ignoring the advice of the WHO that cautions against the closure of borders as a Covid-19 health and safety measure.

“Although the emergence of this new coronavirus is of concern to all of us, there is no justification for panic.”

The NCCI president pointed out that the “reactionary measures” that have resulted in travel disruptions with resultant planned holiday cancellations has placed undue stress on the economies of countries in southern Africa heavily dependent on tourism.

“The Chamber calls for more collaboration and consultative engagement between the world’s nations, rich and poor in fighting this new variant, and indeed as a strategy to negate the broader impact of Covid-19 on the global economy.

“Such a strategy will avoid discriminatory measures against countries who after all are not responsible for the emergence of Covid-19.”

Uirab said that African leaders must consider this as a warning that there must be a need for closer collaboration in future.

“By doing so, rather than following the unjustified action by developed countries such as border closure, African countries will accelerate the creation of an enabling environment for increased trade and investment flows and become less reliant on developed countries for tourism and business.

“The unwarranted action by developed countries also sends out a loud and clear message to Namibia’s hospitality and tourism sector, which is to actively search for new markets. They should market the beauty, splendor and unique fauna and flora of Namibia more aggressively in Africa and in countries in South America, Asia and the Middle East and the NCCI will always assist in this regard.”

In the photo: NCCI President Bisey Uirab.