Twenty-five years after independence, the European Union (EU) and Namibia yesterday cemented their future partnership by signing the National Indicative Programme (NIP).
The NIP agreement is worth some N$900 million.
When signing the agreement, both Minister in the Presidency in charge of Economic Planning and National Planning Commission Tom Alweendo, and the Head of the European Union (EU) Delegation to Namibia Ambassador Raúl Fuentes Milani stressed the importance of the agreement that will focus on key areas of the Namibian economy.
The NIP includes indicative financial resources amounting to N$900 million, which the EU will make available to Namibia from 2015 to 2020.
The NIP will focus on two focal sectors – education and skills, and agriculture. In terms of education, the objective of the support will be to improve social skills and competencies of children entering primary education and to bring the Namibian labour market more and better qualified workers.
As for agriculture, the objective is to improve wealth created from the natural resource-based sectors in a sustainable way to address issues of poverty and unemployment and explore possible transition to a “green economy”.
Funds were also set aside to support the capacity of civil society organisations to enable them to engage as effective development partners.
The programming exercise for the NIP has been guided by Namibia’s 4th National Development Plan (NDP4) and the EU Agenda for Change.
Namibia’s NDP4 focuses on areas with a direct link to economic growth, employment creation and income equality, as a strategy to address poverty and unemployment.
On this basis, the EU and member states with a presence in Namibia, in consultation with the Namibian government and its civil society organisations, prepared a “Joint EU Response Strategy for Namibia” adopted in November 2013. Selection of sectors in this NIP has been guided by this EU Joint Response Strategy.
“We want to support Namibia’s development as the Namibian government sees it and align our resources along Namibia’s development priorities,” said the Head of the EU Delegation to Namibia.
On the side of government, Alweendo said: “We are pleased with the fact that the EU response strategy and NIP is in line with government’s priorities and that the agreement we are signing today supplements government’s development efforts.”
Milani noted that due to Namibia’s maturity in leading its own development, the EU saw no need to write a separate country strategy, as was done in the past and with other beneficiary countries.
“Instead, we have chosen to align the EU support to NDP4, which – with its focus on economic growth, employment and fight against inequality – is perfectly aligned with our own vision on development,” noted Milani.
Alweendo stressed the importance of growing the Namibian economy with appropriate skills and commended the EU for making money available for two key areas where skills are needed most for future development.