By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK The British High Commissioner to Namibia and invited members of the diplomatic community in Namibia last week celebrated Queen Elizabeth II’s 80th birthday. Significantly, this makes her the second longest serving monarch in the world. At the event, British High Commissioner to Namibia Alasdair Macdermott said that Namibia and Britain’s relationship though still in its teenage years is steadily maturing. In these few years, the two countries have excelled in a number of state of areas of cooperation. So far, Britain is helping Namibia in the fight against HIV/AIDS, in the United Nations and Africa Union peacekeeping missions, bringing banking to the rural areas and expanding and enhancing the value of tourism in the country. Other areas of cooperation include commercial interests in diamonds, uranium, copper, zinc and fisheries. He added that while major strides have been made in these areas, the British government would also like to do more in the areas of education. For future development cooperation, the principle is that all projects be purely a Namibian initiative. All projects must aim to reduce aid dependency and not increase it. Presently, aid dependency stands at six percent and this should be reduced to zero percent by 2030. On behalf of the Namibian Government and its people, Minister of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development, John Pandeni, joined other members of the Commonwealth States in congratulating the queen on her birthday. He acknowledged the excellent bilateral relations between the two countries: “Various development co-operation programmes are supported by the Department of International Development and the British Council. We have no doubt that ….the ongoing cooperation in various fields …will be able to achieve the desired economic development goals,” Pandeni said. The British Development Cooperation’s approach in Namibia focuses on enhancing productivity, protecting the environment and helping the people achieve better education, among others. On tourism, Pandeni noted that there has been a noticeable increase in the flow of tourists from the United Kingdom especially after the re-introduction of Air Namibia flights to London. The minister said Namibia will continue to welcome Britain’s special interest in Africa, especially the ‘Make Poverty History’ campaign, an initiative that will no doubt assist governments to reach the goal of bringing education to millions of children in Africa by 2015.
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