Development Support Talks Begin

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By Wezi Tjaronda WINDHOEK Namibia and Germany yesterday started negotiations on development cooperation on priority areas as well sections outside the priority areas of cooperation, which include education and the Namibia-German Special Initiative. Areas of cooperation between Germany and Namibia include the transport sector, natural resource management and rural development, economy and cross cutting issues of HIV/AIDS. Last year (2005), German support to Namibia amounted to N$106 million, while this year and the future will see increased support. Namibia has made requests for continued support for existing areas and programmes supported by Germany to enhance capacity, capacity building, exchange programmes, research and knowledge management, reactivation of the Service Delivery Promotion Programme, support to develop conservancies for the Hai//om San, promotion of increased trade and business between the two countries through tourism, renewable energy and rural electrification. Amongst further areas of cooperation and cross cutting issues are preparatory measures for the envisaged Special Namibia-German Initiative for community driven development in specific regions of Namibia. Mid last year, then German Minister of Economic Cooperation, Heidemarie Wieck-zoreck Zeul announced that her government would avail N$160 million for development projects in resettlement areas of the affected victims of the colonial wars between 1904 and 1908. The Okakarara Community Cultural Tourism Centre is the first centre to be established in the communities that were adversely affected by the German colonial war of 1904-1908. At the start of the negotiations yesterday, Director General of the National Planning Commission, Helmut Angula said the negotiations presented a valuable opportunity to exchange information on policy issues and provide direction to the country’s development cooperation programme. He said although Germany regards education as outside the scope of the cooperation area, Namibia wants the education and power and energy sectors supported as well. Education is one of the areas that the Cabinet Retreat last year identified as priority for the acceleration of economic growth. “The education and training needs improvement as we strive toward becoming a knowledge based economy,” he added, also noting that although the energy and power sector was outside the focal area of cooperation during President Hifikepunye Pohamba’s visit to Germany last year, the German government asked Namibia to consider Siemens offer to construct two 400 MW gas turbines at Oranje-mund. Once fully operational, the planned Kudu gas power station will produce 800 MW of electricity, which will solve Nami-bia’s power woes. Other areas in which Namibia would like Germany’s support are regional cooperation programmes such as infrastructure development in SADC. German Ambassador Wolf-gang Massing said apart from being a shining example of democracy, internal peace and stability, Namibia has seen solid economic growth despite high energy prices and the strong currency. However, rural poverty, severe unemployment and the high HIV/AIDS prevalence rate remain some of the challenges the country is facing. And with the improvement in poverty levels, Massing said Namibia is on track to meeting the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. “I would like to reconfirm the German government’s commitment to supporting the development and poverty reduction strategy of Namibia,” he added. Massing also welcomed the government’s stance in rooting out corruption, which has seen the establishment of the Anti Corruption Commission. Within the bilateral cooperation of the two countries, Massing said his country is prepared to support Namibia to ensure that the country’s resources are used properly and reach those who are in need. The negotiations between the two countries are held every two years.