By Surihe Gaomas TOKYO, Japan Although Namibia may not benefit from international grants as it is considered a middle-income country, the country is on the verge of receiving technical expertise and direct trade and investment from developed countries like Japan. This situation has become even more obvious with the total shift by the Japanese government to assist developing nations in Africa as part of its Policy on Cooperation for Africa adopted in July this year. This was revealed by the Board Chairperson of the United Nations University (UNU) Professor Peter Katjavivi when he recently officially addressed the opening of the UNU board meeting in Tokyo recently. With already five Japanese experts in science, agriculture and tourism dispatched to Namibia recently through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the existing strong relations between the two countries look set to be fostered. In an interview with New Era in Tokyo, Professor Katjavivi said through institutions like JICA and UNU, Namibia stands to gain immensely from expertise and research. UNU which was established on December 6, 1973 is a global think-tank that freely allows world researchers and scholars to undertake research programmes that would benefit development, especially in developing countries where such assistance is needed the most. “It is all about networking and UNU is known for network,” said Katjavivi who’s been in the board chairmanship position of UNU since December last year. One such change has been evident in the mushroom project at Henties Bay that falls under the University of Namibia (UNAM) in partnership with global institutions like UNU. All that remains is for UNAM to respond to what the international community, including countries like Japan, have to offer. “The Namibian government must continue to provide a certain sum of money for research, then UNU can seek funding for research from global donors to complement the research,” explained Katjavivi who is currently Namibia’s Ambassador to Germany. He is of the opinion that in this way, this local tertiary institution can become a “real centre of excellence,” and thereby enhance its reputation. Rector of UNU Professor Hans van Ginkel said the institution takes capacity building as a concept to promote peace, development, human security and good governance. Its mission is to contribute through research and capacity building to efforts to resolve the pressing global problems that are of concern to the United Nations and its member states. The main challenge is that Africa is not well represented at the institution and the time has come to bring the continent on board. “One third of donor money from the European Union will be used for funding programmes in Africa through networking with existing institutions,” explained Van Ginkel. This ultimately leads to what he termed a “win-win situation”. The total annual budget of UNU stood at 40,7 million US dollars last year.