By Catherine Sasman
Namibia and members of the diplomatic corps yesterday joined the Indian High Commission in Windhoek celebrate India’s 60th year of independence from British colonial rule.
Pakistan, that also received its independence in 1947, celebrated its independence a day before.
“Our nation is on the move,” said Indian High Commissioner, Tsewang Topden, paying tribute to his country’s population of over one billion that boasts of an unprecedented economic growth of over eight percent over the years.
The nation’s industry and services sectors show impressive growth and its ICT development has set international benchmarks.
“All around India today, we see new roads built; railways expanding; new power plants being built; new airports being planned; vast industrial estates and special economic zones coming up. This dynamism is the result of the enterprise, creativity and hard work of millions of Indians, striving to find a place in the sun,” said Topden.
Since Namibia’s independence, the two countries have developed close co-operation in multi-lateral fora.
The volume of trade between the two countries has increased with India’s exports to Namibia being US$14.6 million in 2005/06. Namibia’s trade in the same period was to the tune of US$20 million.
“India is keen to sign the India-Sacu Framework Agreement on negotiating a free trade agreement to boost trade and industry,” said Topden.
Moreover, Namibia is partner under the Indian Technical Economic Cooperation (ITEC) Programme, with over 400 Namibians having undergone training in that country.
The courses attended by Namibians are in the critical areas of basic IT training in software skills and Internet applications, e-commerce, English language training, parliamentary internship programme, quality control of fertilisers and rural development, among others.
A number of multi-lateral projects are also in the offing. These include a Pan-African network that would connect 53 African Union members into one network through satellite, fibre optics and wireless links.
This network would connect five regional universities and five regional Super Speciality Hospitals of Africa, as well as one university and one hospital in each African country to Indian universities and hospitals for tele-medicine and tele-education.
This project is in an advanced stage with memorandums of understanding being signed by individual AU members with India.
Another project is the “Hole in the Wall” project that will involve setting up IT kiosks in Katutura for underprivileged children and youth. It will provide unconditional access to computers in a playground setting.
Through the Indian/Namibian co-operation mining engineering facilities will be set up, and IT and augmentation of the faculty of management at the University of Namibia (UNAM), will be established.
India’s diamond and cutting company, KGK, will soon establish a base here and it is expected to invest substantially in the industry.
Other areas of co-operation include the development of small dairy industries, the use of management of Neem trees, training agricultural experts on arid and semi-arid zone crops and joint research projects in watershed management and agro-forestry research.