EU-Africa strengthen cooperation

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Staff Reporter

Windhoek-The main objectives of the Joint Africa-European Union (EU) strategy are to strengthen political dialogue and enhance cooperation at all levels, while the 5th EU-Africa Summit slated for Abidjan, Ivory Coast in late November will focus on the African youth who face unemployment.

This emerged yesterday when the Delegation of the EU to Namibia marked Europe Day in Windhoek.

The central theme for the planned summit in Ivory Coast will be ‘Youth’ as young people face the challenges of migration, security and unemployment. It is felt that to address these issues holistically there is a need for a shared vision and mobilisation for common action.

The EU, it was noted, has various instruments and facilities to support such actions, including the African Peace Facility, the African Investment Facility and EU-Africa Infrastructure Trust Fund.

Other interventions include investment in training and human resource development. On the cooperation programme between Namibia and the EU it was noted there has been excellent progress and development within the respective areas of this collaboration while the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) signed between Namibia and other SADC countries is under implementation.

Under the EPA agreement, Namibian exports will be allowed immediate duty-free and quota-free access to the lucrative EU market and while Namibia can export 100 percent of its goods tariff-free the EU agreed that 96 percent of its goods can be exported to Namibia tariff-free.

Another significant initiative by the European Commission to support investment in partner countries in Africa and the European Neighbourhood was the launch of an ambitious External Investment Plan (EIP) in 2016.

“Through the investment plan, the EU will not only provide targeted guarantees but also contribute to ameliorate the investment climate and policy environment in partner countries,” it was stated by the Delegation of the EU to Namibia.

Concerning development assistance under the 11th European Development Fund, the focus will be on education and skills development, as well as on agriculture and the creation of increased employment opportunities and incomes in a sustainable manner to help reduce poverty in Africa.

On rural development a programme called ‘Support to the livestock sector in the Northern Communal Areas of Namibia,’ has been designed and will focus on the improvement of livestock production systems and increased access to domestic, regional and international markets.

The programme will also focus on the full implementation of animal disease management and disease eradication strategies. Total funding pledged to this programme by the EU amounts to N$296 million to be released over a six-year period.

The launch activities will be mid-2017 as soon as the financing agreement between the EU and the Namibian government is signed.

Last year the EU and Namibia also signed a funding agreement in excess of N$300 million aimed at supporting early childhood development (ECD) and pre-primary education.

The programme intends to contribute to improving children’s access to ECD facilities and services, expanding the number of pre-primary classes across the country and augmenting the quality of teaching during the early stages of education.

The EU that has provided budget support and technical expertise to Namibia for over 15 years says its main aim is to support sustainable growth and reduce poverty, thus maintain peace and stability.

French Ambassador to Namibia, Jacqueline Bassa-Mazzoni, quoted Robert Schuman as having said 67 years ago that Europe will not be made all at once, or according to a single plan but through concrete achievements and creative efforts.

“This is the path we are still following to build a stronger Europe and a better world with all its partners,” she said at the event.

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