The Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation has persuaded the Treasury to release nearly N$900 million for its Namibian diplomatic functions.
Apart from providing for the salaries of its ambassadors and high commissioners, the ministry wants to buy property abroad and renovate its existing properties.
This translates into N$144 million for capital projects at the country’s diplomatic missions, as well as N$742 million for the advancement of the foreign policy through the presence of representatives abroad.
Motivating the ministry’s budget in the National Assembly recently, the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, who also serves as the Deputy Prime Minister, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, said the capital projects at diplomatic missions and at the ministry’s headquarters include all ongoing purchasing, construction or renovation of chanceries and residences, as well as their maintenance.
She said that since independence, 49 properties for use by Namibian diplomatic missions were acquired and of these, three are currently under development and construction, which are those are in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, Ondjiva in Angola and Pretoria in South Africa.
She said most of the properties were acquired during the 1990s and they need renovation, while most properties continue to be rented at high cost to the government, hence the efforts to gradually acquire them.
In justifying the budget, she further said the N$742 million allocated to diplomatic missions and consulates is key in the implementation of Namibia’s foreign policy. She added that the foreign trade delegations that visit Namibia are a direct result of the intervention of ambassadors, high commissioners and their staff.
The minister announced that the opening of a diplomatic mission in the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria will bring the number of diplomatic missions to 34, including three consulates.
She maintained that this is important for government’s efforts to broaden its diplomatic presence across the globe, especially now with the implementation of its poverty eradication programmes.
Thus, Nandi-Ndaitwah said, it will be important to continue to enhance the country’s economic diplomatic activities in order to contribute to the Growth at Home Strategy and the envisioned and yet-to-be-announced Harambee Prosperity Plan.
According to her, new opportunities and challenges are emerging and it for this reason that the ministry has embarked on a process to review the current foreign policy, with the aim to analyze how global changes impact on domestic policies and to identify strategic priorities of foreign policy to maximize benefits for Namibian citizens.