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close this bookThe Courier N 127 May - June 1991- Dossier 'New' ACP Export Products - Country Reports Cape Verde - Namibia (EC Courier, 1991, 104 p.)
close this folderCountry reports
close this folderNamibia: Meeting challenge of nationhood
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentConsolidating democracy
View the documentAn interview with Prime Minister Geingob: partnership with business to create wealth
View the documentAn interview with Vice-President Marin: the political and constitutional success of Namibia is now a model for change in Africa
View the documentAn interview with Dr Ben Amathila, Minister for Trade and Industry: added value equals greater prosperity
View the documentAgriculture and fisheries - managing the transition
View the documentMining - the economic foundation
View the documentWealth in the desert
View the documentEducation in Namibia - bridging the divide by Dr Ian G. MACFARLANE
View the documentProfile
View the documentNamibia and the European Community
View the documentPlanning for development - a man with a mission

Namibia and the European Community

by Peter MANNING

On 19 December 1990, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Namibia, the Hon. Mr Hage Geingob was in Brussels to sign the Accession agreement through which Namibia formally acceded to the fourth ACP-EEC Convention of Lomnd became its 69th ACP signatory. The conditions of the accession offer Namibia considerable opportunities for promoting economic development and social progress.

The Namibian Government is keenly aware of the need to redress the legacy of inequality bequeathed to independent Namibia by South Africa during its era of apartheid rule. In this context, it greatly welcomes the granting of least-developed country treatment for Namibia under the Lomonvention. In doing so, the European Community recognised the scale of the challenge faced by the Namibian Government in tackling the problems of poverty, hunger, unemployment, the massive housing shortage, and the health and education shortfalls. This should serve as an example to other regions of the developed north in establishing new patterns of relationship with independent Namibia.

The economy of Namibia over several decades was somewhat artificially developed as an appendage to the South African economy. In the past, this has substantially reduced the value added element in agricultural production prior to export and has constrained the development of manufacturing and, consequently, of formal sector employment With independence, new opportunities have been opened up and the granting of a beef quota under the Lomeef protocol will greatly assist Namibia in diversifying its export markets, extending value added and increasing employment in the manufacturing sector. It will also, through the levy rebate, potentially provide substantial revenue for the promotion of rural development in previously neglected communal areas.

The size of the beef quota granted - 10 500 tonnes for the first two years and 13 000 tonnes for the subsequent three years - was much appreciated by the Namibian Government. The Namibian beef industry is well on course for fulfilling the quota for 1991.

The Government also welcomes the extension of STABEX to karakul skins in line with the existing coverage for other hides and skins. This will be of considerable benefit to the karakul industry in the face of extremely low international prices and difficult environmental conditions.

Of course, Namibian accession to the Lomonvention will not be the beginning of EC-Namibian development cooperation. Some ECU 19 million was made available in 1990 under the special budget line support programmes during Namibia’s transition to independence. All the funds made available under this budget had been deployed by the year end. This built on the 1989 programme of ECU 10m provided under the same budget line.

Whilst important support has been extended in the health, education and water development sectors, the targeted budgetary support extended in 1991 is particularly worthy of note. This lead, given by the European Community in response to Namibia’s budget deficit was taken up by a number of other donors, and relieved serious budgetary constraints in a number of areas.

In addition to funds made available exclusively for use in Namibia, the country was also able to benefit from other provisions in the EC budget to the tune of ECU 4.2m. While most of this was from the special programmes for victims of apartheid and from the food aid provisions in support of the Namibian drought relief programme, significant support was provided from the Front Line States victims of destabilisation budget lines for orthopaedic rehabilitation of returnees, through NGO co-financing and from the budget line for the protection of the environment.

Utilising Lomnstruments

Turning to the future, now that Namibia is a member of the Lomonvention, the challenge we face is fully to utilise the opportunities opened up thereunder. This will not be an easy task, for the Convention is a wide-ranging agreement encompassing many different provisions. We in Namibia, primarily with the assistance of certain European NGOs, have begun the learning process which is so essential to be able to take full advantage of the opportunities. The Commission has offered to assist in familiarising Namibian Government officials with the various instruments of cooperation which exist under the Convention.

The first area where Namibia will need to respond is in the programming of the National Indicative Programme. It is hoped that financing being made available through the annual Community budget will, in part, be used to prepare the technical grounds for programmes to be subsequently implemented under the Indicative Programme.

The Lomon-programmable provisions also hold considerable interest for Namibia. The karakul industry is already assisting the Government in preparing a STABEX application for 1991 for compensation for export earnings losses in 1990. STABEX disbursements are likely to prove an important source of support to the industry in its efforts to restructure and develop karakul farming in previously neglected communal areas in the south of the country.

The south has also been experiencing drought conditions and the emergency aid provisions of Lomould well assist in meeting both immediate needs and long term developmental programmes to reduce the environmental damage which has resulted. In the north, major problems are faced in the economic reintegration of returnees. Article 225 of LomV could offer an important vehicle for support to the Namibian Government in addressing this problem.

Finally, the SYSMIN provisions of Lomffer an important support vehicle for the all-important mining sector in Namibia. The extension of SYSMIN commodity coverage to include uranium is likely to be of considerable benefit. Namibia is also looking to explore with the Commission, the possibilities of securing SYSMIN support in the copper sector, should major mines be forced to close over the period of LomV.

Trade and development

In addition to the development cooperation provisions of Lome, the Convention offers considerable opportunities for Namibia to diversify its markets. The Namibian Government recognises the importance of trade to the development process. As a result of Namibian incorporation into the South African economy, and the years of international isolation which were essential to the ending of South Africa’s illegal occupation, Namibian enterprises often lack international exposure and the expertise necessary to compete in world markets. It is to be hoped that the Convention will promote the kinds of joint venture which Namibian enterprises need in order to make use of the trade opportunities opened up under LomV.

The game meat sector is a good example of the need for cooperation. There is considerable scope for the export of high quality Namibian game meats to the EC but, given the non-tariff barriers which exist and the fact that in the past, Namibian exporters were often working with unscrupulous entrepreneurs who were interested only in maximising short-term profit, Namibia is ill-placed to develop game exports to Europe Cooperation with established EC companies is needed to facilitate Namibian producers in entering the EC market. If this occurs, a firm base will be laid for the development of game meat farming, meat processing and tourism development.

What Namibia needs in the short term, is assistance in developing export markets, as a basis for the development of the agriculture sector. In this, joint ventures with European companies can play an important role and the Namibian Government would welcome such mutually beneficial ventures.

Fisheries cooperation

One further important area where mutually beneficial cooperation is essential is in the fisheries sector. For many years, foreign fisheries fleets have exploited Namibian fisheries resources to such an extent that fish stocks are severely depleted.

Significantly, one of the first moves made by the incoming Namibian Government at the time of independence was to declare Namibia’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and to call for an international moratorium on fishing in Namibian waters to enable the Government to obtain sound, scientific data on the distribution, composition and abundance of Namibia’s most important fish species. In January 1990, the Government-elect accepted an offer from NORAD, extended through the FAO and the UNDP, to undertake a programme of surveys of the fish resources in Namibian waters so as to enable the Government to establish an informed fisheries policy. The aim is to ensure that this vital resource is not destroyed, but is instead exploited in a manner which will enable the fish stocks to recover and subsequently to be exploited at a sustainable high level.

It is instructive to note, by way of illustration, the depletion of the hake stocks. Catch levels of hake were sustained at between 500 000 and 600 000 tonnes for a ten-year period during the 1970s. By the early 1980s, the stocks were considerably reduced and catches for 1987 and 1988 dropped to some 300 000 tonnes with a greater dependence on juvenile fish. Of the 1990 catch of 1 10 000 tonnes, 83% were juveniles!

Regrettably, the moratorium called by the Namibian Government was not universally respected. In October 1990, the Government complained to the Spanish Ambassador in Namibia that 33 Spanish fishing vessels were known to be illegally fishing in Namibian waters. The vessels were operating, apparently in the belief that they could not be stopped as the Namibian fishing authorities did not yet have effective patrolling capacity. It subsequently became necessary for the Department of Sea Fisheries to hire a suitable helicopter and drop armed personnel on to five of the vessels, arresting them and taking them into the port of Luderitz. The captains of the vessels were tried for illegal fishing and were convicted and sentenced on 10 April 1991. Although the fines and the confiscation of the vessels, tackle and catches appeared heavy, they fall well below the cost to Namibia of illegal fishing in its waters. In March 1991, three further Spanish boats were arrested in Namibian waters and it is the intention of the Government to prosecute them for illegal fishing. It is in the mutual interests of the European Community and Namibia that the Namibian fish stocks be allowed to recover and that the eventual level of exploitation be one that is sustainable. Fisheries conservation and reaching a sustainable exploitation of fish stocks is a topical issue in the European Community with the dramatic decline of cod and haddock stocks in the North Sea. The need for such policies is well understood. The Namibian Cabinet made a decision, based on the recent scientific data available to it and taking into consideration the high rate of illegal fishing continuing in our waters, to restrict the total allowable catch (TAC) for 1991 to 60000 tonnes of hake. Of this, 85% is to go to existing concessionaires leaving 15% for new concessionaires including the EC. The objective of these measures is to enable a more rapid stock recovery and to maximise the long-term sustainable yield.

The Namibian Government has indicated its willingness to establish a fishing agreement with the Community and to abide by its obligations contained in the provisions on fisheries in the Lomonvention. In pursuit of that objective, negotiations between the Namibian Ministry of Fisheries and Marine resources, and a delegation from the European Community, took place in Namibia in early March. It was agreed at that meeting that the objective was to establish a long term agreement for the fisheries sector between Namibia and the EC.

The question of Walvis Bay is obviously one which affects the development of our fishing industry. Walvis Bay is defined as part of Namibia in our constitution and it remains on the agenda of the United Nations Security Council in accordance with its Resolution 432 (1978). However, this issue is currently the subject of negotiations between the Governments of Namibia and South Africa.

Regional questions

Namibia is keen to play a full and active role in southern Africa. In this context, considerable importance is attached to the regional allocation for southern Africa under LomV, for it is hoped that this will be sufficient to provide financing to facilitate Namibia’s early and effective incorporation into the SADCC Programme of Action. When SADCC was launched in 1980, it was anticipated that Namibia would soon join the free nations of southern Africa. This was not to be the case for ten years - ten lost years which Namibia now has to make up in terms of cooperation with its SADCC neighbours.

In this context, it is important to note that in many respects, northern Namibia and southern Angola are one economic zone. If peace should come to Angola, many new opportunities for regional cooperation would be opened up, with northern Namibia providing an important springboard for the economic rejuvenation of southern Angola.

Finally, at regional level, there remains the question of the final abolition of apartheid in South Africa. The Namibian Government was concerned at the decision of the European Community to ease economic sanctions against South Africa at a time when concrete steps to dismantle the apartheid political system and to replace it with a non-racial and democratic system have still to be taken. Our own recent history has proven that the South African Government responds best to pressure - remove the pressure and you remove the main stimulus for change. Southern Africa will not be able to secure the peace that is essential for its future economic development - which in turn is the foundation of political democracy, until apartheid is abolished in South Africa. Accordingly, we believe that the pressure should be maintained.

P.M.