Windhoek-The new Nigeria High Commissioner to Namibia, Lilian Ijeukwu Onoh, has revealed that the long-awaited joint oil refinery to maximise cooperation in energy is still on the cards.
Onoh was among six heads of mission who presented their credentials to President Hage Geingob at State House yesterday.
The other five are Chinese Ambassador to Namibia, Zhang Yiming, France Ambassador to Namibia, Claire Bodonyi, Ghana High Commissioner to Namibia, Salamatu Elizebeth Forgor, Sierra Leone High Commissioner to Namibia, Osman Keh Kamara and Panama Ambassador to Namibia, Jacob Dominguez.
President Geingob encouraged them to continue strengthening and expanding the existing bilateral relations.
Nigeria and Namibia in 2014 proposed to set up a joint oil refinery to maximise cooperation in energy.
It was in 2014, during the visit of the former Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan to Namibia, that both states expressed the need to conclude the agreement and establish a joint oil refinery.
The new high commissioner revealed that the two states’ discussions to set up a refinery and oil storage facility in Namibia are at an advanced stage.
Namibia Ambassador to Nigeria Dr Peingeondjabi Titus Shipoh was recently quoted by the Daily Mail saying the project was mothered some 10 years ago.
He said the effort was to assist Namibia not to fall into the hands of big sharks when it comes to the supply of petroleum products.
“It is important for Namibia to have its own refinery and when it imports crude it could refine it within the borders of the country. Unfortunately, there was an issue with one chapter of the agreement, which was not finalised technically, but the two heads of state insisted the agreement should be finalised and ready for signing. Eventually we were informed that everything is ready but because of the technicality of that one chapter of the agreement, it was not signed. And it remained unsigned,” Shipoh had said.
Asked on the feasibility of the project, Shipoh said: “Well, recession is in both countries. It is difficult to predict how soon that can be. We also need to know from the champions, the private sector, how ready they are. If they say they are ready, we will leave it for them. For us as governments, Nigeria and Namibia will only ensure that we create a conducive environment for the private sector to champion the project.”
Onoh told journalists that Nigeria, Ghana and Namibia are working on a tripartite agreement to see how they can increase intra-Africa trade.
“We want to see how we can make Namibia the actual destination for Nigerians coming to invest here because the potential is incredible for cooperation. For us, Namibians are welcome to go and invest in Nigeria. Your ambassador in Abuja is very active and he has gone an extra mile in identifying areas of investment and potential between Namibia and Nigeria. So, either way, if one of us benefits, then the other also benefits.”
Meanwhile, new Chinese Ambassador to Namibia, Zhang Yiming, said he is pleased to return to the country as he worked in Namibia some six years ago at the Chinese embassy.
“Although we are geographically far away from each other, we are friends, partners and brothers. China will continue to support our Namibian brothers based on the principles of equality, equity and mutual beneficiary,” he stated.
When asked how he plans to address Chinese nationals who have of late been accused and arrested of escalating poaching incidences, he said it’s always the Chinese government’s policy and standing to fight wildlife crime.
“It’s few Chinese nationals who commit such crimes in Namibia but those people cannot represent the whole Chinese community. Our standing and policy is very clear, we will join hands with the Namibian government to fight these crimes,” he pledged.
He explained he will continue to encourage more Chinese companies and enterprises to come and invest in the country to contribute to local job creation, poverty eradication and help drive industrialisation.
An additional six heads of mission are also expected to present their credentials to Geingob today (Friday). These are from Tanzania, Lithuania, Argentina, Mauritius, Equatorial Guinea and Pakistan.