Namibian Ambassador Sophia-Namupa Nangombe said Monday she wants her nation to be seen as a success story rather than just another African country suffering from poverty, disease and starvation.

She expressed a strong belief in the nation’s future but lamented Japan’s lack of understanding about the southern African country, during a courtesy call to The Japan Times.

“It is one of our biggest challenges in Japan, to convey this message to the Japanese people,” she said.

Nangombe has served as ambassador to Japan since 2013.

Namibia became independent from neighboring South Africa in 1990 and has since enjoyed an enviable level of political stability.

The country’s economic growth has come in part thanks to Japan’s efforts to raise awareness about African development through the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD), which was launched in 1993, she said.

Nangombe believes Japan’s assistance has been important in enhancing regional integration through such projects as construction of the Katima Mulilo Bridge, which spans the border with Zambia. She considers strong cooperation with Japan to be essential if Namibia is to achieve its goal of becoming an industrialized country and a logistics hub serving global markets by 2030.

Japan has been contributing to the development of Walvis Bay port on the country’s west coast, which is seen as a strategic location for the continent.

Nangombe sees boosting cooperation in trade and investment as central to bilateral relations.

She lamented that despite its abundance of natural resources, including diamonds, Namibia lacks the skills and infrastructure needed to process the materials. She hopes for further investment in entrepreneurship to help local people develop skills that “will make us move forward.”

“The biggest challenge that Namibia is faced with is the challenge of skills, the challenge of education,” she said. “We are looking at special programs for women and for the youths. (Our) challenge is to build the country.”

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