By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK Trade and economic cooperation between Namibia and Russia is on the cards, and the inaugural session of the Namibia-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission will be held in the capital next month. The upcoming event is seen as further cementing the already existing strong bilateral ties between the two countries. The latest developments come after the two governments signed an agreement on Trade and Economic Cooperation in July last year when the Russian Minister of Natural Resources Yuri Trutnev paid a visit to the country. It is against this backdrop that the Ambassador of the Russian Federation Nicolay Gribkova celebrated his country’s National Day with a number of ambassadors, government ministers and members of the diplomatic corps in Windhoek yesterday. After recent talks with President Hifikepunye Pohamba on economic prospects especially in the field of oil exploration, plans are underway to turn such ventures into mutually beneficial processes for both countries. At the occasion, Russian Ambassador to Namibia Gribkova informed the dignitaries that the Russian Federation attaches great importance to attracting Russian investments into the Namibian economy in order to help the Namibian nation as a whole in fighting poverty, unemployment and epidemics. Such a move would further assist Namibia in achieving its developmental goals of Vision 2030. “Russian companies are coming in flocks – Sintezneftegaz, which recently signed an important oil prospecting contract (and) oil giant Lukoil and others,” are also following suit and have expressed interest in Namibia’s economy, he said. It is therefore hoped that with the creation of a joint financial company this will serve as a green light for Russian investors to eventually kick-start the process. “We see many Russian business people coming into Namibia despite the huge geographical distance between us. We hope that Russian specialists will find oil in Namibia,” explained Ambassador Gribkova. While presiding at the G8, the Russian Federation also expressed its commitment to continue supporting Africa-related activities, especially in priority areas of combating diseases, energy, security and education. In view of this, a meeting of the African Partnership Forum will be held in the capital Moscow in order to adopt the first report for an ADF Joint Action Plan in October this year. On behalf of the Namibian Government and the nation in general, Minister of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development John Pandeni expressed a word of thanks and sincere gratitude to the Russian Federation for its support to the country, even since way before independence. “At present our bilateral relations are excellent and we have in existence various bilateral agreements, arrangements and initiatives for further deepening cooperation between our two countries,” said Minister Pandeni. Besides business cooperation links, Namibia has also benefited immensely from the Russian scholarship programme enabling young Namibians students to further their tertiary education and training in Russia. This was done on bachelors and post-graduate level and specialised fields of training at institutions of higher learning in the Russian Federation. Furthermore, the Russia-African Centre for University Services (RACUS) based in Lusaka, Zambia recently hosted an educational exhibition entitled “Study in Russia” in Windhoek. This was run under the auspices of the Russian Embassy in the capital. In the same vein Minister Pandeni said that a collective effort from all relevant stakeholders would bring the recent polio-outbreak situation in Namibia back to normal. “While the situation is rather serious, there is no cause for undue panic as the Namibian health authorities with the assistance of the World Health Organisation are fully managing the outbreak by administering vaccines nationwide,” explained the minister. At the event, Pandeni and Ambassador Gribkova proposed a toast of good health to the presidents of Namibia and Russia and for lasting friendship between the two countries.
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