By Mbatjiua Ngavirue WINDHOEK French development aid to Namibia will total N$17.5 million this year, according to that country’s embassy in Windhoek. Head of French Co-operation in Namibia, Laurent Ronis, said the aid would mainly go towards promoting cultural diversity, good governance, rural development and the French language. Speaking at a media briefing on Tuesday, Ronis outlined several French development initiatives scheduled for this month. France has been providing support to Namibia’s rural development since independence. Ronis said the Namibian veterinary services would be one of the main beneficiaries of this aid in 2006. At the end of this month, the French Embassy will donate equipment valued at approximately N$200ÃƒÆ’Ã†’Ãƒâ€ ‘ÃƒÆ’ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒ…ÃƒÆ’Ã†”Ã…Â¡ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â 000 to help the Ministry of Agriculture in its animal disease-prevention programme. This will include 30 post mortem kits for each veterinary field office and each laboratory station in Namibia. An ELISA system will also be established at the Ondangwa veterinary laboratory. He said the ELISA system is in accordance with the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry’s wish to extend services to the northern communal area and eventually incorporate this region in the foot-and-mouth disease-free area. The ELISA system is required for executing serological tests evaluating the status of foot-and-mouth disease in cattle in the northern regions. France will also donate an ultrasonic homogenizer to the central veterinary laboratory. France started discussions with the Namibian Government in April about participating in the Education and Training Sector Improvement Programme (ETSIP). Namibia’s Minister of Education, Nangolo Mbumba, travelled to Paris in September to hold further discussions on ETSIP with the French Agency to Development. France will participate in an appraisal meeting on ETSIP taking place in Windhoek on the basis of an offer of a US$45 million soft loan to Namibia. Ronis announced that France is also planning to contribute to the modernization of the Namibian education system by financing French experts who will come to assist the education ministry. Three missions are expected before the end of 2006, including the visit of Pierre Charle, chief inspector of vocational education, and Michel Perraudin, Head of the African & Middle East Department. They will meet with the Ministry of education from October 18 to 21. The purpose of this trip is to identify the way in which France can develop strong cooperation with Namibia in the field of vocational education and training. Two chief inspectors will come to Namibia in November to share the experience of the French education inspection service. They are Inspectors Jacques Briand and Gilles Bernard, who are expected in Windhoek at the end of November to finalize the opening of a French/German and French/English pre-primary and primary section at DHPS in January. Last July, the National Museum of Namibia and the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) in Paris signed a partnership agreement. The agreement led to the renovation of the collection on human sciences (archaeology, ethnology and ethno-ecology) of the Windhoek museum and the training of Namibian experts in those fields. The NMNH is sending archaeologist, Dr David Pleurdeau, and ethno-ecologist, Richard Dumez, to Namibia for a 15-day field trip to the Erongo Region. From October 8 to 23 these two leading experts will examine the Erongo mountains to evaluate their potential for scientific studies, and if they find potential, design a comprehensive research project.