Namibia and EU sign latest NIP agreement

WINDHOEK: The Namibian government and European Union (EU) on Tuesday signed the National Indicative Program (NIP) agreement worth about N.dollars 920 million (Euro 68 million) towards education, skills development and agriculture in Namibia.

Minister in the Presidency in charge of Economic Planning and Director-General of the National Planning Commission (NPC), Tom Alweendo and the Head of the European Union (EU) Delegation to Namibia, Ambassador Raul Fuentes Milani signed the NIP for the period 2015-2020 on behalf of the two parties. Namibia received more than N.dollars 1 billion from the EU under the NIP over the period of 2008-2013.

Speaking at the signing ceremony in the capital, Milani said due to the maturity of Namibia in leading its development, the EU is of the opinion that there is no need to write a separate country strategy as was done in the past.

“Instead we have chosen to align the EU support to the fourth National Development Plan (NDP4), which with its focus on economic growth, employment and fight against inequality is perfectly aligned with our own vision on development,” he said.

Milani explained that in terms of agriculture and the rural economic sector, Euro 20 million (about N.dollars 270 million) is allocated to the strengthening of the livestock value chain in the Northern Communal Areas (NCAs).

He said that by gradually adapting to a more commercial-oriented approach of cattle producers, it is believed that more wealth and employment will be generated not only for the farmers and their communities but also for others in the value chain, like input providers, transporters, processors and retailers.

Milani stressed that the funds allocated to agriculture are also expected to support better rangeland management through tackling overstocking, thus investments are foreseen to improve the veterinary status, work on development of markets and the market knowledge of producers.

It is also aimed at assisting communities with small-scale infrastructure to promote commercial cattle production and stimulate entrepreneurship to engage in value addition of rural value chains.

Regarding vocational training and skills development, the EU Ambassador said Euro nine million (about N.dollars 122 million) is allocated to enhance the employability of Namibian youth so that they can take opportunities offered by the private sector and enhance their labor market-oriented skills and competences. This support is targeting a number of vocational training centers in the country.

Milani noted that education is central to tackling poverty and it remains the most important enabler for people to have equal access to opportunities for development, and to participate in decision-making processes that determine their lives and future.

He further said that for children to enter the education system Euro 27 million (about N.dollars 365 million) will be provided for Early Childhood Development and pre-primary education.

Milani said funds allocated to the sectors mentioned above will further be supported by another allocation of Euro 4.5 million (about N.dollars 61 million) to further strengthen the monitoring and evaluation of the NDP to improve the realization of development goals.

The support of Euro six million (about N.dollars 81 million) will go towards civil society to channel voices of the citizens to the policy makers so that through their feedback, their needs are better understood and addressed.

The remaining Euro 1.5 million (about N.dollars 20 million) will be channeled to create a facility for short-term technical assistance where such expertise cannot be sourced locally.

Speaking at the same occasion, Alweendo welcomed the support to the government that prioritizes the key sectors of economic development.

“We are pleased with the fact that the EU’s response strategy and NIP are in line with Government’s priorities and that the agreement we are signing today supplements Government’s development efforts,” he said.

According to the website of the European External Action Service, the NIP was approved in 2014 in line with the national development strategy and key policy documents.

The partnership between the European Union and Namibia is based on the ACP-EU Cotonou Partnership Agreement, which is a landmark for EU willingness to make a significant contribution to sustainable development and the gradual, regional and global integration of African Caribbean and Pacific countries into the world economy.