By Mbatjiua Ngavirue WINDHOEK Both Namibia and the European Union have expressed concern at the slow pace of the process towards finalizing an agreement on important negotiations currently under way between the two partners. The negotiations relate to funding for Namibia under the tenth European Development Fund programme for Namibia, EDF10. They also include finalizing the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the EU and the Southern African region. Director-General of the National Planning Commission, Helmuth Angula, last week held talks with newly-appointed EU ambassador to Namibia, Dr Elizabeth Pape, to review the ongoing negotiations. The talks with Ambassador Pape follow talks the National Planning Commission held in February this year in Botswana with EU Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, Louis Michel. Briefing the media on the talks on Thursday, Angula described the EU as a very important development partner, whose support and cooperation Namibia valued highly. The aims and objectives of the talks with Commissioner Michel were to explore the future continuation of EU aid to Namibia beyond the current programming cycle. The EU and the Namibian government jointly identified sectors for channelling support of the major part of EDF10 for the 2008-2013 programming period. Angula said they knew well in advance what the allocation of resources and funds for EDF9 would be, but EDF10 had no fixed amounts yet. The two parties were, however, confident the amount would be substantially higher than the 67 million euros – N$600 million – allocated during the five years of EDF9. He said it was important to note the addition of 28 million euros left over from previous EDFs to the 67 million euros under EDF9, bringing the total to around N$900 million. The Government of Namibia, in consultation with the EU, had identified the human resources and rural development sectors as the focal point for EDF10 support to Namibia. He indicated that the human resources and rural development sectors would receive close to 85 per cent of whatever total funding the EU eventually allocates under EDF10. Non-focal areas such as governance and non-state actors receive the remaining 15 per cent of whatever amount is allocated. The intention is to channel whatever support is provided for human resources development through a sector budget programme contributing directly to the implementation of ETSIP. For rural development, consultations are still under way to determine the specific areas for consideration. Ambassador Pape said that even though she had only been in the country for a short time, she had visited some of the projects benefiting from EU support in northern Namibia. She said many of the projects she saw are showing quite promising results. With regard to EDF10, Pape said she hoped they could use the time before Christmas to work out the modalities of the various programmes more closely.
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