Namibia Should Learn from Ethiopian Airlines

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By Kuvee Kangueehi

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Namibia’s Ambassador to Ethiopia Wilfred Emvula believes that the country and in particular Air Namibia will benefit from an air service agreement it signed with Ethiopia earlier this year.

In an exclusive interview with New Era in Addis Ababa recently, Emvula said Ethiopia through its national airline, Ethiopian Airlines, has one of the best airlines on the African continent and Air Namibia, which is currently struggling, can improve its capacity through this link.

He noted that Ethiopian Airlines has advanced in its technical services and can offer Namibians training in aviation traffic control. They can also train its crewmembers and pilots.

Emvula said discussions between Air Namibia and the Ethiopian Aviation Department are currently under way and if the talks are concluded successfully, the two countries’ national airlines could be flying to each other’s countries and facilitate easier movement of people and cargo.

Ethiopian Airlines currently fly on a daily basis from Addis Abba to Johannesburg and Emvula said an agreement can be signed which would facilitate a connection for Air Namibia flights from Windhoek to Johannesburg to Addis Abba.

Namibia has also signed a bilateral agreement on economic, science and culture. The Ambassador said the agreement is an umbrella agreement and involves many ministries, and various ministers in Namibia are working on modalities to identify their areas.

Since the African Union (AU) headquarters are based in Addis Abba, Emvula said, the embassy plays a double role. Besides being a country representative, he has to serve Namibia’s interests at the AU as well.

The AU has eight departments and the Namibian Embassy in Ethiopia is expected to serve in the different departments and be involved in various programmes.

The ambassador said Namibia has not yet fully formalized diplomatic ties with Sudan, Somalia and Eritrea because of the political situation in those countries.

Emvula added that Ethiopia has been an important ally of the Swapo Party and Namibia before and since after independence. He noted that many Namibians were trained in Ethiopia. The country availed one of its aircraft to fly former President Sam Nujoma when he returned from exile in 1989.

Emvula’s first diplomatic posting was to France in 1999 after a brief stint as a Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry. As ambassador to France, he was accredited to Italy, Spain, Portugal and Unesco.

Emvula was the first Namibian Ambassador to France, and opening an embassy in France was triggered by the host country, which adopted a foreign policy to show more interest in African countries even those that were not its colonies.

Namibia and Mozambique received special treatment from France and the former deputy minister said Namibia benefited a lot from French cooperation in the sectors of health, trade and culture.

Emvula spent seven years in Paris and was posted directly to Addis Abba at the beginning of 2008. Comparing the two postings, Emvula says France’s ties with Namibia are more of an economic nature, while Ethiopia is a political posting.

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