By Charles Tjatindi
Walvis Bay will host the Municipal International Cooperation (MIC) Network Conference, which is scheduled for April 6 to 11, 2008. The conference is expected to attract over 80 delegates from 34 municipalities around Africa.
The Municipal International Cooperation (MIC) is a partnership between 17 Norwegian municipalities and municipalities in Africa. Currently, the Namibian towns of Walvis Bay and Tsumeb represent the country on this international body. Under these partnerships, various projects are supported financially or through the sharing of expertise.
In Walvis Bay such support comes through projects that include improvement of communication between staff and politicians.
The process supports disabled children and disseminates newly acquired knowledge and skills to other municipalities.
Another programme that benefits from the initiative is the Walvis Bay Municipality’s Emergency Project, which aims at halting the rise in deaths caused by fire and reducing the cost of material damage, in view of frequent fires that occur in poor suburbs in Walvis Bay.
Walvis Bay youths also benefit from the initiative through exchange visit programmes designed by the local municipality to involve bored and idle young people in positive activities. The programme targets young victims of drug and alcohol abuse, as well as youth involved in crime.
The Norwegian aid agency – NORAD – has been providing funds to the Municipal International Cooperation (MIC) since 1999 using the Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities as the coordinating body.
Acting General Manager: Human Resources and Cooperate Services of the Municipality of Walvis Bay, Jan Kruger, praised the MIC initiative, noting it has done more than just linking the various municipalities.
The Walvis Bay municipal publication, Bay News, quoted Kruger explaining how the MIC came about.
“MIC has grown and has been amended continuously since 1999. It has developed in the direction of a more narrowly defined municipal cooperation to make the most out of the cooperation’s distinctive character,” he noted.
The Walvis Bay Municipality and its counterpart from the Norwegian town of Kristiansand are credited with being the pioneers of the MIC.
According to Bay News, the cooperation between the two port cities came about as a result of a former Kristiansand chief executive officer’s assignment to NORAD in the late 1990’s, where he was requested to assist the Walvis bay Municipality in developing systems for long-term planning.
“The focus has shifted from the original ‘getting to know each other’s experiences’ and competence building to more sharply defined objectives,” Kruger was quoted in the Bay News.
The April conference aims to ensure the quality of the MIC programme regarding methods and strategies, encourage the exchange of experiences between partnerships and motivate and inspire the partners.
This is the fifth network meeting.
Special guests at this year’s conference will include former mayor of Walvis Bay Theresia Samaria, and her Norwegian counterpart Bjorg Wallevik, the former mayor of Kristiansand.