By Francis Mukuzunga WINDHOEK The European Union (EU) has extended about Euro 18 million to private sector investors in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries in a move to promote inter-regional trade and investment among the 14 member states. The EU-SADC Investment Promotion Programme (ESIPP) Manager, John Rowan, in Windhoek yesterday, revealed this. Rowan was speaking on the sidelines of the on-going ESIPP Tourism 2006 conference that began Tuesday and ends on Friday. Rowan said private investors in SADC countries had the capacity to develop a regional powerhouse when it comes to interregional trading among themselves. ESIPP is the core project of the EU-SADC regional cooperation and alone accounts for the bulk of the Euro 18 budget. The main purpose of the EU extension is to promote investment in the SADC region through a combination of capacity building of the private sector and through the organizing of five major sectoral partnership meetings in key sectors of the SADC economies. Tourism 2006 is one such meeting under ESIPP. The other four are ESIPP Mining, to be held in Lusaka, Zambia, next month; Agro-Industrial, to be held in Maputo, Mozambique, next year, Light Engineering, held in February 2006; Mauritius and Construction, held in Johannesburg, South Africa. Rowan also told New Era that private sector companies could receive individual support from this fund provided they find potential partners from any one of the SADC member states and that cross-border opportunities can be achieved among the member states. More than 300 representatives are attending the ESIPP Tourism 2006 – from SADC private tourism companies and organizations that are looking for opportunities under one roof. Rowan said this is one way in which member states can find a one-stop shop for products and partnerships they might be looking for. “Results from previous two meetings have shown that there is a South-South cooperation among the member states as opposed to North-South cooperation,” he said, in reference to European to African trade levels. Some deals or trade agreements, to be overseen by the organization, are reported to have been concluded by the first day of the meeting and Rowan says he expects more by the end of the conference. Head of the European Commission (EC) Delegation in Namibia, Erhard Loher, said the tourism potential in the SADC region is exceptionally high and provides opportunities for further development in the longer term, despite serious international competition. “Under the EC national aid programme to Namibia, the tourism sector received financial support from the very beginning in the early 1990s,” said Loher. “The aid instruments applied covered a wide range of activities, such as institutional strengthening and training, supply of equipment, infrastructure and the promotion of Namibia’s tourist attractions at international tourism fairs,” he said.
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