The European Union (EU) this week said Namibia, with her good standing in the international community concerning democracy, has the potential to have a greater and more active participation in international affairs.
Head of the European Union Delegation in Namibia, Ambassador Raul Fuentes Milani, said: “Namibia is on the road to success in our view,” citing the country’s sound macroeconomics, respect for human rights and the ability to transfer power democratically as some of the factors that have made Namibia an African country of reference.
Milani spoke to New Era this week on the EU’s bilateral relations with Namibia as well as on the Economic Partnership Agreement. He says the EU is keen to hear Namibia’s stance on an array of issues on the international stage, from the post-2015 development goals prior to the United Nations summit in September that is set to discuss the new sustainable development goals, to climate change negotiations before the Paris meeting.
“Many of those goals are also our own,” Milani said, repeating a statement he made during the Europe Day celebration last week. He referred to the just signed National Indicative Programme for 2015 to 2020, worth N$900 million, as part of efforts to lay the foundation for a cooperation that facilitates trade, investments and development of new markets, as opposed to development assistance. The National Indicative Programme for 2015 to 2020 supports early childhood development and pre-primary education, and focuses on giving support to the rural economy, through a livestock value chain in communal lands. Milani emphasised: “It is important to note that the National Indicative Programme is based on issues identified as priorities in [Namibia’s fourth] National Development Plan.”
He added: “It is a joint effort, it is not our [the EU] development plan, it was developed in agreement with the Cotonou Agreement, which says we must co-manage development strategies.” Milani says the manner in which the National Indicative Programme was arrived at “is a reference for the donor community” as it follows the priorities of the Namibian government.
He says the N$900 million assistance package would also be supplemented by other thematic lines of assistance, that would be evaluated case by case. These would be on issues of food security, civil society and local authority development, where Milani says assisting local authorities with developing good governance is crucial.
Milani also says other assistance to Namibia is looking at closing the skills gap in the country through vocational training. The EU, together with the German technical cooperation, has a vocational training programme. However Milani says: “Maybe more needs to be done.”
To this end, he says, he has been meeting with various UN agencies in the country on how to enhance the skills capacity in both the public and private sectors.