I had the honour of presenting my Letters of Credence to His Excellency President Hage Geingob on the 7th of November 2019. In this event we both expressed our commitment to further strengthen the longstanding relations between the European Union and Namibia. EU is an important partner for Namibia in trade, sustainable development as well as in multilateral global and regional issues.
We had European Union elections this year and the new leaders will soon start guiding the work of the EU. The President of the new Commission and the President of the Council have shared their first ideas of future priorities. These include Green Deals and fight against Climate Change, EU Africa Alliance for sustainable growth and jobs; Digitalisation and Data technology as well as Peace, Security and Stability as areas of key importance. All these areas seem to be very relevant also in Namibia.
I am happy to come back to Namibia as EU Ambassador, after my 5-year assignment here in 1998-2003 serving for Finland. As a result, I know the country a bit, because I and my husband travelled in every corner of Namibia at that time. Now I am looking forward to seeing what kind of development achievements the country has made over the years.
Namibia is an upper middle income country and because of this there are a limited number of development partners. There are new development partners and also public-private -partnerships and private investments play an increasing role. European Union is both a development partner and an investment partner for Namibia.
I commend Namibia for the recently organized High Level Economic Summit that came up with the list of reforms needed to overcome the country's economic challenges. Namibian economy has suffered from external reasons like low commodity prices, reduction of SACU revenues and the drought. Also internal reform action is needed e.g. to address the high wage bill and debt levels as well as to improve the business environment to attract investments. I am sure that the High Level Panel for Namibian Economy will come up with important recommendations in this respect and I hope that EU can support Namibia in these efforts. Strong private sector is needed to create growth and jobs!
EU is at the moment supporting Namibia though budget support to pre-primary education. The budget support is combined with technical assistance by UNICEF for early childhood development. Another area in education sector is the vocational education and training in collaboration with Namibia Training Authority and GIZ. EU support also includes Livestock development as a focal area in the Northern Communal Areas to improve the performance of the livestock value chain.
The EU believes that a vibrant civil society is important to achieve sustainable development. We support the capacities of the civil society and their role in for instance environment protection or fighting gender based violence as well as democratic development, which is of key importance.
The recently approved EPA Implementation Plan will open new opportunities for the private sector and in trade and investments. EPA implementation plan can support reforms to improve business environment and it can enhance trade facilitation and integration as well as support value chain development. EPA implementation plan is part of EU Regional SADC programmes which provide support also in many other important areas.
I as EU Ambassador want to continue our collaboration that is premised on a partnership approach. Our cooperation in based on joint interests, values and visions for the future. I am very keen to learn more of today's Namibia and always ready to meet and discuss issues of importance for Namibia. Now this dialogue is more important than ever, because we are planning for our cooperation for years to come. I have a strong team of professionals at the EU Delegation and we are all looking forward to working with our old and new Namibian partners.
H.E. Ms Sinikka Antila
EU Ambassador to Namibia