Cover Image
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
Open this folder and view contentsCape verde: A mudanša - change
Open this folder and view contentsNamibia: Meeting challenge of nationhood

(introduction...)

In January, the whole world was on tenterhooks watching the fate of a little country in the Middle East, Kuwait, and, other than for the occasional mention of the Baltic States, the media had no interest in anything else. So the political upheavals of another little country, Cape Verde, thousands of miles away from the Gulf, had no chance of hitting the headlines and in some cases indeed, passed virtually unnoticed by public opinion in the countries of Africa, although they were to have their influence later on.

It was on 13 January, just 48 hours before the UN ultimatum to Iraq expired, that the Movement for Democracy (MPD), the party 41-year old lawyer Carlos Veiga had founded a mere eight months previously, achieved Africa’s first political switch in an election. And what a victory it was. The MPD took twice as many seats (56 to 23) as the country’s African Independence Party (PAICV), the single party in power since independence 15 years before. Prime Minister Pedro Pires accepted defeat and resigned. His party’s only good showing had been on Fogo island, his own constituency, and Boa Vista, President Pereira’s. There were heavy losses on the more populated islands of Santiago, Sao Vicente and Santo Antao.

A month later, it happened again. While international attention was focused on the land battle soon to be waged against Iraq, Cape Verdean voters were determinedly back at the polls on 17 February, confirming their vote in the legislatives and electing political newcomer Antonio Mascarenhas, the challenger, over incumbent Aristides Pereira, the Father of Independence, by 72 % to 26 % in the presidentials. This put an end to speculation about cohabitation by an MPD government and a PAICV president by those who were convinced that the outcome of the legislative election meant more of a lack of confidence in the rather authoritarian rule of Pedro Pires than a decline in the influence of the PAICV. They had to submit to the evidence. The Cape Verdeans had rejected their longstanding leaders and the policy they stood for en bloc.

The ironic thing is that the PAICV only had themselves to blame for their own downfall. Without any pressure from the street (as there was in Cd’Ivoire and Benin and Cameroon, for example), it looked to events in Eastern Europe and decided to abandon its constitutional single party status in February 1990, a decision which was rubber-stamped by the National Assembly in September. At that stage, of course, the leaders were convinced that their historical legitimacy as independence fighters and the undeniable progress the country had made under their management were adequate protection against electoral defeat, as former PM Pedro Pires readily admits. ‘That is so. We never imagined we could lose ‘ So, as Georgina de Mello, a former party official in Praia, adds, ‘we didn’t campaign to win. We spent most of the time preparing the institulional framework for the democratic transition. Defeat wasn’t one of the scenarios and even our most pessimistic forecasts predicted victory’.

Although this does not detract from the old team’s merit in opening the door to democracy, it does tarnish the crown prepared for the conversion to pluralism and put a question mark over its commitment to political pluralism had it known its days were numbered. At all events, it would have behaved differently and tried the well-known tactic of divide and rule among its opponents. ‘We should have encouraged other parties to emerge’, Pedro Pires says regretfully. ‘It would have enabled us to prevent the Contra front against the PAICV’. The UCID (the Independent and Democratic Party) and the UPICV (the People’s Union for Independence) were clandestine for years and indeed tried to become legal, but they were unable to get all the signatures they needed in time - despite a last-minute push from a PAICV worried about the first bad opinion polls, it is whispered in Praia - although they could have expected to do well on at least the two most heavily populated islands of Santo Antao and Sao Vicente.

There is no doubt that the MPD landslide was due to the forced union of the opposition and to Movement candidates getting the anti-PAICV vote. But why was the electorate in a country which even the IMF and the World Bank said was properly run so disenchanted? The World Bank’s latest report on Cape Verde had said there was ‘proper, 5% pa growth of GDP in the 1980s largely thanks to sound financial and economic management’. The new Prime Minister recognises (in his interview) that there was no real corruption in the country. So why was the old government team thrown out?

‘Because of a whole range of factors of varying importance’, claims Pedro Pires. He is still badly upset by defeat and has not finished shaking up his party, which has no more State subsidies and no idea what to do with its many permanent staff. The PAICV, he claims, ‘was hit by shock waves from the drive to modernise Cape Verdean society and had to carry the can for problems which were the by-products of its achievements... We solved the education problem, but it made the employment crisis worse. We ran an agrarian reform and redistributed the land, but it upset the old owners. We set up a lay State and got the abortion law voted, but the very influential Catholic church was angry about it. And we wanted to put an end to the welfare state and get the people to help pay for education and health care and they didn’t line that either’.

Pedro Pires waved away the idea that his (according to some) autocratic running of the country and the arrogance of a number of PAICV leaders might have had something to do with the electoral downfall. The ‘immediatist’ mentality of the people was to blame, he maintained, for they wanted an instant solution to their employment, housing and health problems and had been seduced by MPD promises. Nonetheless, there was a massive turnout for the Carlos Veiga party in rural Santiago and Santo Antao, where there are big contingents of beneficiaries of the agrarian reform, and if there was anyone who should have been happy and shown their gratitude at the elections, it was these former landless peasants who had become landowners thanks to the PAICV.

And perhaps the Cape Verdeans were just tired of having the same (power-weary) leaders for 15 years and all they wanted was Mudan a change, and new, young leaders. That is perhaps what Joshantre Oliviera, a young Sa island tradesman, meant when he said that the ‘African Independence Party has lost its raison d’e now the country is sovereign. It’s the party of the past. Most Cape Verdeans are young and they are looking for something to develop the islands’.

Perhaps, quite simply, despite the nearness to Africa and the lessons that might be learned from it, Cape Verde is above all a piece of the Caribbean which has drifted to this side of the Atlantic. In the West Indies, to which its Creole society unites it, spectacular changes of majority are nothing unusual, as the recent history of Jamaica and Barbados shows. But that is something that only future elections will tell.

For the time being, the PAICV is getting ready for what it hopes will be a salutary spell in opposition. The party has to be reorganised to meet the new situation and modernised to give it fresh impetus and bring out new leaders.

As for the MPD, it knows it has to respond to the great expectations it has aroused in the people of Cape Verde soon. But will the people have the patience to wait for the new policy to beat fuit? That is the question. But as Rural Development and Fisheries Minister Antonio Gualberto do Rosario says, ‘not only do they have a lot of waiting to do. They are also available to participate’. And the key to government action, as he sees it, is ‘how far it can enable Cape Verdeans to take part in the proper democratisation of society and take part in development at all levels’.

The country’s new leaders are young (they are all around 40) and enthusiastic. They have no complexes about what they have to do and the fact that they have all got undeniable professional success behind them and left well-paid jobs for meagre ministerial salaries augurs well. The most important thing is that they ate not starting from scratch. The country’s economy is healthy, overall, bearing in mind its particular characteristics, and the successful transition to democracy may attract greater interest from funders.

So, Cape Verde, as State Secretary for Cooperation Josonteiro pointedly remarks, is well placed to fad out whether the causes of under-development really are solely the oft-blamed bad management and corruption combined with no democracy and no people participation. ‘We are getting rid of these problems, so logically speaking we should develop... Unless there are other rearsons...’

Amadou TRAORE

An interview with the President, Antonio Mascarenhas Monteiro

‘A single party bears the seeds of dictatorship’

Who would have thought a few months ago that Antonio Mascarenhas Monteiro - Tony, as they call him on the thousands of election posters still to be seen all over the islands - would be elected President of the Republic by three out of four voters in the wake of an MPD victory and with that party’s support? No-one. And certainly not Tony. He was hesitant about standing for supreme office, as if unwilling to put himself forward, right up until the last minute. For this is a modest man, it is true, who opens the door of his little house in Praia himself, seeing in and out visitors to the home he intends to live in even after taking up his duties.

Antonio Mascarenhas, who had a spell with the Guinean maquis in the fight for independence before training as a lawyer in Louvain (Belgium), has been President of the Supreme Court for the past 10 years and, at the age of 47, is representative of his country. The Courier met him just a few weeks before the official investiture on 22 March.

· Mr President, were you surprised at your showing at the elections?

- Not at all. During the early election campaign from December to 14 January, when the campaign proper started, I realised I had a very good chance of a comfortable win, so I wasn’t surprised. One or two of the opinion polls even suggested I would do a bit better.

· The post is a rather unusual one in this country now, isn’t it, because, unlike your predecessor, you have no political responsibilities, do you? Or have I got that wrong? How do you see it?

- A President of the Republic, I believe, still has political functions even in a semi-presidential system. The President’s powers have not yet been fixed, that is true, and the Assembly is going to revise the constitution to take care of that soon. But the President, to my mind, has moral authority. He may also wield influence, which is very important in a country like ours. There are some fields in which, traditionally, the President can intervene, of course, like foreign affairs and national defence. He can have an influence I believe, nevertheless.

· Will the present external relations policy he changed at all?

- No, not fundamentally, because our existing relations, particularly with the European countries and the USA and the African countries, have to be kept up and taken further if at all possible. Cape Verde’s involvement in our sub-region of Africa and in inter-African organisations like ECOWAS and the OAU will be more important than it was before. We are going to try and see if we can do a little bit ore than before.

· You are still a young man and you could perhaps have chosen a more active job than that of father of the nation...

- That doesn’t depend only on me. As you know, the President’s powers have yet to be defined. I do not personally refuse to wield wider powers than those currently enshrined in the constitution. But the Assembly has to decide what my powers are first and that 1 shall act in the light of them afterwards. I can’t tell you now that I know the Assembly will be revising the constitution in a month’s time and I shall have such and such a power when it has finished. That would be very unwise of me. But I do know that the idea is to redefine the powers of the President.

· The election campaign has apparently left signs of a split in the population. Is that so?

- No, I don’t think so, because there was a massive vote for one candidate. My opponent only got 26% of the votes, but I don’t believe that 26% of Cape Verdeans look upon themselves as an enemy faction of the majority which voted for me. The campaign was hard, there is no doubt about that, once my opponent and his team realised that their chances of winning were minimal. As I said, it was obvious in January that I was going to win. All the surveys said so and the best survey is contact with the people. I was enthusiastically received everywhere I went. There was great euphoria’ whereas they were so cool with him that he sometimes had to cut his meetings short.

· Why do you think the people stopped hacking the PAICV and the former President?

- I think because a single party in power for 15 years is too much. A single party bears the seeds of dictatorship and nepotism and some abuse of power, although things never got beyond a certain point in Cape Verde, of course... People who are in power for years get arrogant in the end too, because they are accountable to no-one, and that is the mentality which led to disenchantment with the PAICV and its regime.

When you are there for so long, you start protecting your friends and spending money in ways not always catered for by the law. And then you get power-weary. Even in democracies, this leads to the party in power being thrown out and the phenomenon is even more marked in a single party.

· Cape Verde has taken the same path as Sao Tomanother island country and a Portuguese-speaking one as well. Will democracy catch on faster on Portuguese-speaking islands, do you think?

- I don’t know. I think it’s just a coincidence. It could well have been Guinea and Benin instead of Sao Tomnd Cape Verde, for example.

· Except that those countries leave lots of political parties and Cape Verde hasn’t. Is there room for more parties here?

- There’s always room. Indeed, there is a law which provides for political parties to be set up. All a group of men and women have to do is decide to form a party and they can. Two parties are being legalised at the moment.

· If these parties were legal, might they not take some of the MPD’s popular support?

- Yes they might. If you are trying to beat a single party system on your own and you have popular support, you are bound to catalyse the whole of the opposition. But if there were other political forces, I think that the votes would be spread right across the opposition.

· In future, then, you expect to gain fewer roses?

- Of course, because if there are other parties out there, they are bound to get votes too.

· Will the new team have the people it needs to put its policy into practice?

- Yes, I think we have a sound government team of competent people here, but when it comes to putting policy, economic policy especially, into practice, it is not just people you need. You have to have material resources and that does not just depend on us. As you know, Cape Verde is a very poor country which depends above all on international cooperation to go on living.

· But aren’t you worried that in a country run by the PAICV for so long, the senior people might stay loyal to them?

- That is not the question. Those who belong to the other party are entitled to go on working. They will be used a; cadres, as Cape Verdean citizens. We are short of senior people, in fact, although we are perhaps not so badly off as other countries in this respect. There is a lot of ground to cover here too, I think.

A.T.

Profile


Cape Verde

Area:

4 033 km²

Population:

341 300 inhabitants



Main islands:




· Santiago:

171000

· Sao Vicente:

51000

· Santo Antao:

46000

· Fogo:

33000

· Other islands:

40300



Births:

39‰

Deaths:

9‰

Life expectancy:

65 years

Primary


school attendance:

100%

Per capita GDP (1988): $758




Structure of employment


Agriculture:

52%

Industry:

23%

Services:

25%

Official debt (1987): $131 million (70% of GNP)

An interview with Prime Minister Carlos Veiga

‘Leaders must not behave like rich men’

At the end of last year, Carlos Alberto Wahnon de Carvalho Veiga, a 41-year old lawyer virtually unknown outside Cape Verde, suddenly made history by leading his party, the MPD (Movement for Democracy), in the first political switch to occur at an election in Africa.

Veiga is an eloquent speaker who inspires his listeners with words that are right on target. Even now, people all over the islands are delightedly dotting their conversation with some of the more caustic remarks of the election campaign - at which time he was still head of the country’s biggest legal office. But as a serious Head of State he its aware of what he has to do to make a success of the change. He does some direct talking in this interview with The Courier, which he gave in admirable French.

· The country you have just begun to lead had the reputation of being managed properly. Is this borne out by what you have found?

- No, we don’t think it was managed properly. We think there was a lot of wastage and no coherent development plan. There were plenty of projects, of course, and some of them work and some of them don’t, but they add up to nothing very coherent. So, generally speaking, we believe that things could be better. There teas been no corruption, that we recognise. Our predecessors worked and they wanted the best for Cape Verde, but we feel that things could be even better.

· The extent of your election victory the people’s great expectations mean you have to go for rapid results if you are to satisfy them. Can you manage this?

- We think that winning creates an obligation to work hard and do better than before. Some results can be obtained rapidly. It isn’t easy and we have told the people that there will be problems and hat they have to understand them. There are some problems we will not be able to solve over the next five years, but we are going to do what we can to improve the various situations here in Cape Verde as much as we can.

· Which are the sectors in which you expect to get fairly rapid results?

- In the administration, for example. You can get rapid results when you decentralise power. And you can do so on the legal front too.

· Do you want to improve the administration?

- Yes, we do. We want to ensure that it is no longer a dead weight and that it facilitates things which are good for the

· What are the reasons for this decentralisation you just mentioned?

- These are islands, with different possibilities and what are sometimes different problems. And they have their own cultural features too. We have to make the most of this if we are to solve some of the problems facing our people. We think that they were dissatisfied with the former government because the majority of them have not had the benefit of development. There are daily problems that have to be solved fast and we think this is something that can be done in the municipalities if they are given the power to do so, i.e. resources that are currently concentrated here in the ministries in Praia.

· But on some islands, that may amount to giving the power to the opposition, if it has a majority.

- I don’t know that it will, but if it does, never mind. We think the most important thing is to solve the people’s problems. But I am convinced that this decentralisation will be of benefit to the government and the party in power at the municipal elections.

· You said just now that the previous rme had no coherent view of development in Cape Verde. That means that you are going to suggest one, doesn’t it? Along what lines?

- We have to start with the very real fact that many of our islands have assets, Cape Verde’s development has to be founded on the development of the regions and integration has to be achieved in very specific areas, in fishing and tourism and industry. Nationally speaking, these three sectors, plus agriculture, are what we should be focusing on, I believe.

· Those were also the previous government’s priorities, weren’t they...?

- Indeed they were. They were its priorities, but it never did more than announce them. It never put them into practice. A lot of tourist initiatives were blocked all those years, for example. We have to open up and that is why we maintain that the administration has to be improved fast so there is no hanging about and the Minister doesn’t have to wait for months to decide whether a project should go on or not. Decisions have to be faster. People have to be given more initiative. That is what is missing here.

· You are probably going for greater liberalisation on the economic front, aren’t you? Does that mean that the State is going to get out of production?

- Not necessarily. The economy needs less of the State in it and it needs a better State. We have a host of public firms for the time being and we are going to decide which ones are being run properly and not dead weights as far as the economy is concerned.

· Which are they?

- The TAVC, Cape Verde’s Air Transport Company, for example, is doing very badly and CABENAVE, the shipyard, isn’t doing so well either.

· Are they going to be privatised?

- Not necessarily. We shall be looking into them. Some of them will have to be privatised, I agree, but others, the maritime transport companies among them’ are practically bankrupt. The lessons are there to be learned.

· Some issues, agrarian reform, for example, and the abortion law, came up again during the election campaign. How are you going to handle them?

- We shall do as we promised. We shall go to the country on abortion; organise a referendum if we have to. The essential thing as far as agrarian reform is concerned, as we see it at the moment, is to focus on three sectors - agricultural credit facilities, technical support for people wanting to work on the land and rural extension work. None of these has been dealt with for years or, if they have, not properly. And nothing has been done about agricultural credit at all. So that is the most important thing at the moment, we think Not taking land from Peter to give to Paul That causes far more problems than it solves.

· That has already happened?

- What’s done is done, but we will not go on with this policy.

· Inter-island communictions are very complicated You just brought up the problems that the maritime company and the TACV are having. Are aircraft the best way of providing regular links between the islands?

- It has to be discussed. Some people prefer boats, but you have to look at the problem as a whole Boats are perhaps best for freight, but I’m not so sure about passengers. We could also perhaps look at other ideas, Catamarans, for example. At all events, this is a sector which has to be tackled globally. TACV cannot cope all on its own

· What role do you see for the Cape Verdeans who live abroad?

- Economically and technically, a very important one. We think there are technical skills and capital which could do a lot more for Cape Verde if the people who have them were better informed. People invest here in Cape Verde in cars and houses If there had been a tighter link with emigration, these investments would have been channelled into productive sectors. But there was no confidence between the government and the emigrants, although this is something which could change very quickly. There could be rapid answers to some of our emigrants’ problems, to the customs difficulties and the maritime transport difficulties. The situation between the customs and the emigrants, who are often, heavily taxed, is cause for particular concern

· Was it lo give confidence to your emigrants that you included some in the government?

- Yes indeed. There is a lot of emigration to Portugal and some of the present ministers live there, although they haven’t always been emigrants. The most important thing on this front is to create a Secretary of State for Emigration at the Foreign Ministry This is an extremely important post

· Some emigrants I think, were involved in your or President Mascarenhas’ election campaign to the extent of financing posters...

- Yes, in the United States, but it didn’t amount to much.

· Will your government have new priorities for the country’s external relations?

- The former government’s external policy was right, generally speaking, although we think that some things call for greater emphasis To our mind, human rights, for example, should be more to the fore and our external policy should have stronger economic connotations. The external policy has to become a major part of the economic policy. And more attention has to be paid to our emigrants.

· So the host countries where the emigrants live will he privileged partners?

- Yes indeed, privileged partners as far as our emigrants are concerned. But we must also pay a great deal of attention to African integration. We shall be focusing on our relations with the African countries, particularly in the organisations we belong to, in ECOWAS, for example, and in the group of five Portuguese speaking nations, and we shall be focusing on our relations with countries closer to home, with Senegal and Gambia, in our sub-region. All this is of great importance to us.

· Since you won the elections, there have been complaints about playing a waiting game. Are your new policies going to be made public soon?

- This government is a government of management and we already have contacts. In any case, my party’s programme is very clear on external policy. As I said, it has been on the programme for a very long while.

· I was referring particularly to the economic content of your programme. That is the most important thing, after all...

- Our programme has been properly developed, especially as far as the economic sectors are concerned and we are hoping to present it to the government within a fortnight of our appointment. Once we have a constitutional government, things will be easier.

· You, like many of the ministers, are going to lose moneys by joining the government, as your legal office was a very prosperous one, wasn’t it...?

- The office was not doing badly, but my present job is an exciting one. Everyone has to make sacrifices. There were years of waste, particularly when it came to official cars. That is something you have to be careful about here in Cape Verde. The country is a very poor one and you have to be careful not to have a rich man’s policy.

· Is this something you are going to be very careful about?

- Yes indeed.

· It’s easy to say now you are only starting your term of office...

- There won’t be any problems. Before, we were there with the people. That is the difference.

· Can your opponents say they fought for independence?

- They weren’t on the inside, close to the people. We were. Whatever a government’s policy, it doesn’t have a chance here in Cape Verde if it isn’t close to the people.

· But the population did nothing all those years. It didn’t revolt...

- But when it had the opportunity to say what it thought, it said no. If we want to work for this people and not have to run the risk of a ‘no’, then we have to be careful.

· Weren’t the elections more of a vote against the PAICV than a positive vote for the MPD?

- They might have been. It was saying no to a certain kind of development project and to the focusing of power and projects on certain islands, for example.

· But with competition from other parties, you could well find yourself in a less comfortable position...

- We know we could. We don’t want to be another single party. We know that governing will be more difficult.

· But you are going to have sympathy from abroad because of your democratic transition. .

- We hope we are. The indications we have from abroad are good and we are going to make the most of this and work harder.

· Work is a word you use a great deal...

- Without work, you don’t get anything done. The Cape Verdean people already work hard and they can make great sacrifices if they know the government is backing them. Their history has been a perpetual struggle for survival, although they have never lost their ability to sing and enjoy life.

Interview by A.T.

Tourism - the engine of future growth

By early March’ Cape Verde has changed the soft covering of greenery left by the rains for the ochre dust of its volcanic soil and it is prey to the winds. That dry wind from the mainland, the dreaded lestada, blows relentlessly night and day. The islands’ plant life, starting with the glorious Prosopis Juliflora, the providence of these sere regions, has learned to adapt, bending to deflect the furious gusts. Yet the wind, never ending in its punishing of the fragile soil and its whipping away of its precious particles, may be on its way to becoming one of the stars of the country’s future development. For it is the wind which brings the dozens of wind surfers to spend hours at their favourite sport on the coast by the Morabeza and Belorizonte hotels on Sal island.

Cape Verde is one of the best places for wind surfing, which is very popular among western holiday-makers, and it is there, off Mindelo on Sao Vicente, in a narrow channel providing extra acceleration, that world speed records are set. The word has got round and more and more funboard fans are coming to the country’s beaches. New equipment is tested there every year and Wind Surf International is soon to sponsor a combination competition there. Conditions are ideal for surfing too, although this is not so well publicised for the moment. Ask Virgilio Mendon the deputy director of the Hotel Belorizonte, why tourists come to Cape Verde and the immediate answer will be ‘the wind in the winter and the beach in the summer and peace and quiet all the year round’. The islands already have 5000 tourists every year.

But it is early days for tourism. The main stumbling block is the difficulty of actually getting the tourists from their country of origin to Cape Verde and moving about between the islands is not always easy either. Although the Gulf crisis has pushed up the price of air tickets twice since the start of the tourist season, it had some positive spinoff too, as German tourists who used to go to Egypt came to Sal instead this year. Mr de Souza Lobo, the general manager of the Morabeza was delighted when these providential arrivals filled the hotel and no more rooms were vacant. The Morabeza has just improved its range of excursions by buying a fast trimaran that takes only an hour to get from Sal to the sandy beaches of Boa Vista, undeniably the finest in the country.

He and his colleague Mr Mendonagree that the government should boost Cape Verde’s tourist trade by cutting through the red tape that hinders tourist projects, making it easier for promoters to get credit and being flexible about the organisation of charter flights. There is no doubt that the new Minister of Industry Trade and Tourism, Gustavo Araujo, will be keen to hear what they have to say. Mr Araujo, a former expatriate recently back from Lisbon, where he ran a travel agency, is convinced that tourism will be the ‘driving force of the country’s new growth’ and that this is the sector to release resources to finance investments in other fields. He means to start by attracting the top end of the market, people who set trends and go to luxury hotels and are copied by the less well-off. Plans siting future tourist facilities and outlining types of promotion schemes, the requisite financial means and the extent of national staff involvement are on the drawing board.

A strategic sector

The new team has high hopes of another sector too, fisheries. ‘This is the only sector that can really be called strategic here in Cape Verde’, Rural Development and Fisheries Minister Antonio do Rosario says, ‘because the fishing potential of our Exclusive Economic Zone is considerable, because our geographical situation is such that we can develop fishing in other areas too and because of the possible links between fishing and industry - boats and processing, for example’.

The government is to have a complete overhaul of this sector, privatising Pechcaf, the State fishing firm at Mindelo, and reorganising the company which markets fish products abroad. It will also be helping private operators, emphasising research and training fishermen and other people working in this area. All Cape Verde’s islands have good potential when it comes to developing the fish industry, but Sao Vicente has the mote particular advantages of a natural deep-water port, refrigeration facilities and a shipyard, so this is where the fisheries development institute on Santiago is to be transferred.

This will be an extra asset for Sao Vicente and its port, Mindelo, which will one day have a vital part to play in developing the ‘country’s geo-strategic position’, as the time-honoured expression of Cape Verde’s situation half way between America, Europe and Africa goes. Mindelo was already a popular coal supply centre for ships going round the Cape of Good Hope in the last century and if projects on the drawing board for some time now were actually put into practice, they could bring back this lost importance.

One such scheme is a Brazilian plan to set up warehouses to store goods which would gradually be sold on markets in West Africa.

Shipping companies are also very keen on the idea of warehouses. They would mean that, instead of grouping their freight as they have to do at the moment and sending large ships to drop off small quantities at various ports in the region, where the goods can well be stuck for long periods, an expensive undertaking, they could unload the whole of their cargo at Mindelo in one go and send small boats to do the final deliveries.

The geographical situation could attract finance too, at least Cape Verde hopes so, since it is preparing to set up off-shore banks. ‘The decision will be coming soon’, Gustavo Araujo told me, ‘and it will mean we can find out how the international capital markets work, which will help the modernisation of our central bank’.

Another important side of the policy of capitalising on the geographical situation has to do with industrialisation. The Minister is convinced that his country’s low wages and skilled labour force will attract Spanish and Portuguese industries which cannot stand up to greater competition in the Single Market in 1993 and that these industries will bring in a knowledge of the markets which the Cape Verdeans do not have. This sort of transfer has already taken place in the footwear industry. A Mindelo footwear firm, which was doing very badly, was taken over by the Portuguese and has been doing well ever since, as the new organisers brought with them their list of American clients.

Industrial promoters could also be attracted by the fact that Cape Verde belongs to a number of regional organisations - ECOWAS, for example, whose treaties (on the free movement of goods especially) could open the door to the markets of 16 countries in the region. Gustavo Araujo believes that African solidarity will do a great deal for his country’s producers, as Cape Verde is small and, he hopes, ‘people won’t be wary about it’.

Agrarian reform

None of this means that agriculture will be neglected. In spite of the shortage of arable land (only 10% of the country’s 4033 km²) and very unreliable rainfall (Cape Verde is in the Sahel, let us not forget), farming is the dominant sector of the economy and provides jobs for a large part of the population. But these two major handicaps have given the islands a structural food deficit. Only in good years can the nation cover even a small percentage of its cereal requirements, so the new government is not aiming at self sufficiency, which is out of reach, but at ensuring that the peasants get as much from the land in terms of revenue as they can. Accordingly, it has no problem with the fact that a large part of the irrigated land on Santo Antao is given over to sugar cane, which is distilled to make aguardente, a much prized and very expensive alcohol. Nor that experienced vine-growers (grapes were introduced in the 19th century by a very prolific French Huguenot called Montron) working the land at the foot of the Fogo volcano, which last erupted in 1951, manage to produce thousands of litres of wine on a lunar landscape of volcanic ash and lava at various stages of decomposition. This year they produced 50000 litres of a highly alcoholic, syrupy beverage halfway between grape juice and traditional wine. One of the growers was proud to tell me that his vines bring him in an annual 350 000 to 400 000 escudos (a top civil servant only gets 25 000 a month) and that his son had emigrated to the USA but came back two years later because ‘he earned less and had to work harder for it’.

There is more talk of agrarian reform from the new government. But it will not behave like the old regime and go in for more land redistribution. It intends instead to modernise farming by bringing in new methods - greenhouses for example, and drip irrigation to maximise the water resources and double the current 3000 ha under irrigation. It will also promote new crops and develop livestock. Antonio Rosario, the Rural Development and Fisheries Minister, says that agrarian reform ‘is essentially a cultural problem of relating with the land, of changing outlooks and of encouraging people to look to the market. We have to set up an efficient rural extension service and give people who have no land the opportunity to develop other types of activity, herding and craft and cottage industry, for example, and the processing of agricultural produce such as pawpaws and coconuts and being involved in rural tourism’.

The price of success

Clearly, the country has ideas to help it breathe fresh life into the economy. It intends mobilising its large emigrant population as it has never been mobilised before. There are apparently as many Cape Verdeans abroad as at home (some say twice as many) and, even when they have been in their host country for generations, they never completely cut the ties with their ancestral land, as the sumptuous villas with closed shutters and glittering motor bikes (especially on Fogo) are there to prove. Less visible proof, although there is no doubt more of it, is the money; the thousands of postal orders which the emigrants send to their families back home, $29 million in 1986 and $35 million in 1988, mainly from the USA and the Netherlands. This represents a vital contribution to the balance of payments.

More than ever before, the emigrant community is going to be the subject of government concern and the idea is for it to invest more in the priority sectors of tourism, fishing and industry. The fact that a number of the current ministers are themselves from the ranks of the emigrants may encourage the government here, but it will take more than that to make a success of the reforms. Cape Verde will have to go on counting on external aid and, traditionally, it receives a lot, that is certain. In 1987, the figure was $87 million, which is $256 per head, and the democratic process should logically result in an increase in this manna.

But paradoxically, the country is starting to be a victim of its own success. It is a major beneficiary of food aid from the USA and now it is going to have to pay the transport costs of about $1 million, because it is considered to be a medium-income country, with a per capita GNP of $758 (1988). Much of this is not the result of local production, but of food aid and postal orders from the emigrants’ as the authorities are quick to point out. However, if development country classification criteria continue to be based on this kind of gross figure, Cape Verde will find it more and more difficult to obtain the concessional resources which have enabled it to get on so well over the past 15 years.

Infant mortality, for example, has dropped sharply to 50 per thousand now as against 130 per thousand at the time of independence. There is now one doctor for every 5220 inhabitants, whereas the figure for 1976 was one for every 23 000. And the school attendance rate for children of seven to 10 is 100%. Terrible famine was frequent in the last century, but everyone now has plenty to eat, the average consumption of the staple pulses and cereals now being 207 kg per person as against 165 kg at independence. Life expectancy is good too, at 65 being a record for the region, and the people have the fourth best quality of life index in Africa, after Libya, Mauritius and Seychelles.

The Community and the Member States have been the biggest financers of Cape Verde’s development programmes. In 1985-87, for example, they supplied 56% of the country’s total aid between them. But the new authorities see the quality of aid as being every bit as important as the quantity. Cooperation State Secretary Jose Luis Monteiro is convinced that the conventional ways of managing external assistance programmes, with all the rigid machinery of project submission and control, do not give maximum returns in Cape Verde. ‘What we need is aid arrangements that are based on agreeing on the main objectives with our partners, who will then supply us with flexible financial means that can be apportioned on a decentralised basis as unforeseeable situations crop up’.

The ideal would be for all donors to follow the example of Swedish aid, which the Cape Verdeans are tireless in praising. There is a large amount of it, about $10 million-worth per annum, the extent to which it is tied has been reduced to a minimum and, most important, it all comes in cash, which Cape Verde is using to pay for two (goods and services) import programmes, justifying the expenditure afterwards. Sweden appears to be satisfied with Cape Verde’s performance and has just increased the period of aid programming from two to three years.

One Community country, the Netherlands, is following Sweden’s example. A dialogue between The Hague and Praia was set up several months ago and, even if it fails to lead to aid in hard cash, it could trigger a major decentralisation of Dutch aid, with the central government agreeing on the main lines and then delegating to its ambassador powers which cannot be left to the Cape Verdeans.

This quest for more and more flexible assistance will not be easy, although the country’s sound management and the transparency attendant on its alternation of political parties should help. And of course there is the sympathy and admiration generated by a brave people, shaped by the pitiless natural selection of the terrible famines which punctuate its history, ever unwilling to bow to fate. These are the people who decided to stop desertification by planting 3 million trees every year (be it happy coincidence or the first results of reafforestation, rainfall has returned to normal). These are the people who have shown great maturity in electing the leaders of their choice in a peaceful manner. So what can stop them from achieving their goals?

A.T

‘...and not a drop to drink’

The country’s number one problem is brought home to the visitor as soon as he sees the sticker on the hotel bedroom wall. The picture of a dripping tap speaks for itself. ‘Water is a precious commodity in Cape Verde. Please do not waste it’.

There are no permanent water courses on the islands. The only natural source of supply is the scant rainfall, the twice-yearly showers which soon drain off the hills into the ocean. But the country collects water in many ways. It has built big tanks for collection and storage during the winter and it sells the water at 2.5 escudos per 25 litre can. At the foot of the Fogo volcano, this particular technique has been spread to the individual families, who no longer have to go on long water-fetching trips now a religious NGO has given them their own tanks and plastic piping to channel the rain from their roofs. Their supplies, enough for the period between two winters, are kept under lock and key, of course, to avoid wastage.

Boreholes, also common, are sunk in pockets of fossilbearing earth and are an essential contribution to the country’s supplies. The Community has financed many of them, particularly on Santiago, to help meet the ever-increasing demand of Praia, the capital, whose population is expanding constantly as people flock in from the rural areas. Solar pumps, motor pumps and in some cases windmills may be used to draw up the water.

The quest for water can be a Herculean task. What a job it was to drill an 800 metre gallery, shore it up and ventilate it, spend ECU 3 000 000 on it and then get only a fraction of the water expected. Yet the sacrifices are worthwhile and, in the case in point, corrective drilling could remedy the situation.

Sometimes the Cape Verdeans shift their water from, say, Santo Antao, which has plenty, to Sao Vincente, which has none, an economically viable operation in this case in view of the short distance between the two islands.

Lastly, there are a number of sea-water desalination units, the most expensive method of all, because imported energy has to be used to make it work. But three of the islands have no underground resources of any kind and in these, desalination is the only answer.

A.T.

The Cape Verdeans and America

by Miguel ALVES

On account of the terrible famines which have punctuated its history, Cape Verde has always been a land of emigration. Today, it is in the position of having more citizens living overseas than within its own frontiers. Most of these Cape Verdean expatriates live in the United States. Retired judge, Miguel Alves relates the story of these migrations.

Emigration to the USA is said to have begun when American whalers stopped off at Cape Verde to recruit men for their crew - which, Pedro Monteiro Cardoso claimed in the introduction to ‘Foclor Caboverdiano’ (2nd edition), they first did in the 17th century. This book on Cape Verdean folklore was produced by Luiz Silva, who gathered all the authentic information from the works of Antonio Carreira (or Antonio Barboza Carreira, to give him his full name), Luiz de Andrade and such publications es ‘A Voz de Cabo Verde’ and ‘O Manduci’ and points out that Cape Verde emigration experts tend to agree that emigration to the USA actually began in the 19th century.

Alfredo Margarido’s preface to ‘Foclor Caboverdiano’, of which extracts are reproduced below, says that the wave of emigration to the USA began in 1899, an idea which seems to be backed up by details from ‘O Manduco’ (Fogo, 192324), ‘A Novo Patria’ (Lisbon, 1930-32), ‘A Voz de Africa’ (Lisbon, 1913) and ‘A Voz de Cabo Verde’ (Praia, 1911-19).

‘Eugenio Tavares certainly seems very interested in this issue, possibly because the hundreds and hundreds of Cape Verdean emigrants to the USA came from the island of Brava. The leader in the 19 April 1911 edition of ‘A Voz de Cabo Verde’ is one of our most important sources of information on the conditions in which the movement first emerged. The colony saw emigration as repugnant 30 years ago, it said, Cape Verdeans traditionally dislike the idea of sailing and leaving their native soil and there were no emigrants from any of the islands in the archipelago - other than Brava, which lost a fairly large number of its inhabitants to North America, a place which was getting to be well known among our sailors working on the (mainly American) whalers which called there to recruit seamen. And from 1899 onwards the movement gathered momentum.

While giving credit to all this, there are one or two personally-known facts which we should like to bring to the reader’s attention.


Emigration from Cape Verde 1983 figures

In the I July 1950 issue of Cape Verde’s ‘Boletim de Propaganda e Informa’, the late Dr Julio Miguel Monteiro published extracts from the North American ‘Our World’, relating the exemplary behaviour of the Cape Verdean community in New Bedford and claiming that ‘the oldest of our contemporaries in the Cape Verdean colony of New Bedford is 116-year old Rosa de Barros’. So, if 1950 is taken as the reference date, Rosa must have been born in 1834 and, if she was 25 when she emigrated, she would have left Cape Verde in 1859.

Another, more personal case is that of a great uncle, Gaudencio Andrade Monteiro, who went whaling and ultimately got a master’s ticket in the US merchant marine. He died in Praia, in 1956 at the age of 75, was therefore born in 1881 and, if he started his career in whaling at 25, would have emigrated in 1906.

Conclusions

It is reasonable for Luiz Silva to have found evidence of American ships calling in at Cape Verde to recruit seamen for the whaling trade in the 17th century, although the exodus to America did not start until 1899, as Dr Alfredo Margarido has shown. ‘Exodus’ does not refer to departures prior to this date, for it is our belief that although emigration began on a small scale in the 1850s, the mass movement started in 1899.

Emigration to Senegal also began in the 18th century according to another article which the late Alfredo Mendes Rodrigues contributed to the Boletim de Propaganda de Cabo Verde (No 7, Year I of I April 1950). The article praises the conscientiousness and intelligence of the Cape Verdeans, saying that this should earn them the same consideration as the former French colony of Senegal - which led the local government to grant them building land in Dakar (at the place where the Avenue Gambetta now runs) and get the Credito Predial to provide 20-year loans to help with this.

The nearness of Cape Verde to Senegal and the fact that A.M.Rodrigues talks about the intensification of emigration suggest that small-scale emigration must have started prior to the 18th century.

M.A.

Cooperation with the EEC

by Joso MELO DE SAMPAIO

Cape Verde joined Lom in 1977, just two years after Independence. Thus it has been cooperating with the Community for 15 years, an exercise which has brought it financing worth ECU I 17 million (roughly 10 438 000 000 Cape Verdean escudos), not including what it is to get under the first LomV financial protocol. This aid was divided as follows (ECU).


Figure

The main aims of Community aid fit in well with the country’s general policy for the long term, i.e. to raise the standard of living, combat drought, work for food security and cut unemployment.

Lom & II programmes

The two national indicative programmes here helped achieve the main aims of the first national development plan, in particular by improving hygiene in Praia and increasing the water supply (and building drainage facilities and urban distribution networks, installing sewage systems in the most underprivileged areas and setting up an urban rubbish collection system). A programme of micro-projects was also run for the people of Santa Caterina and LFerreira (on Santiago). Generators were supplied to the Praia and Mindelo power stations to boost the electricity output of these two towns and a Praia Development Master Plan was produced to avoid new districts springing up unplanned and identify new areas of urbanisation.

EEC support was given to the government’s hydro-agricultural strategy of regularising rainwater runoff and encouraging infiltration with a series of rural engineering works (dykes, banks etc) and large-scale tree planting. One of Cape Verde’s biggest problems is its inadequate rainfall and hilly terrain and it has to avoid such rain as it gets running off into the sea. If it manages to do this, the cropland can gradually be extended and the structural shortage of cereals and other crops can be reduced.

The Community has made an active contribution to the huge anti-desertification campaign, particularly with a vast reafforestation scheme. On independence, the country had 2957 hectares of forest, but there are 35 000 ha now, which translate into almost 3 million trees planted every year, (equivalent to 9.23 trees per inhabitant per year).

Italy has joined the EEC on the transport and communications front, cofinancing a plan to improve Sal International Airport by reorganising the buildings for national and international travellers and the roadways and other networks. The equipment supplied has improved air traffic, assistance and navigation facilities and aid and assistance to aircraft.

Non-programme schemes

Food aid: ECU 32 million-worth of food aid (cereals, milk, butteroil, beans and so on) was sent out to Cape Verde under Lom and II. The local practice with food aid is to sell it to the people and set up counterpart funds which are managed by the FDN (the national development fund) and used to finance labour-intensive schemes to combat desertification and foster food security via rural engineering, building local roadways, planting trees and so on. This has a very remarkable effect on employment in rural areas and helps settle the people in the countryside and encourages them not to drift into the big towns.

Emergency aid: These schemes got ECU 4.05 million and 94% of it was used to help cope with the effects of the drought. The rest went into locust control schemes and relief for flood victims.

NGO co-financing: There were 30 cofinanced schemes over the period. They were worth ECU 2 384 000, a very significant amount bearing in mind that it represents 1.3 % of the monies the Community allocated to NGOs throughout the world at this time.

Stabex: The country received ECU 1.305 million in 1977-84 to make up for the loss in banana export earnings triggered by persistent drought, but it has not needed help from Stabex since.

LomII programmes

Cape Verde was allocated ECU 23 million here, ECU 20.5 million of it in grants and the rest as risk capital managed by the EIB.

The national indicative programme was signed in Praia in November 1985, but since the Community aid had to be icluded in the second national development (1986-90), the Government was unable to put forward an action programme until 1987, when the aim was to contribute to the regional development policy by:

- striking a fresh balance between the population of Praia and available resources (especially water);

- raising the standard of living;

- optimising municipal management.

Community aid, focused on the development of Praia, involved a number of interdependent schemes.

All schemes were included in a Praia City Development Programme for which a financing agreement was signed in Praia on 13 August 1988.

The schemes which have been identified and are currently being implemented are as follows.

a) Drinking water production and supply, ECU 6 million: I. Building three drainage galleries - the Bota Rama gallery (800 m long and producing between 350 and 800 cubic metres of water per day), the Mosquito (1100 m long, to raise water up to 175 m and able to provide a flow of at least 600 cubic metres per day) and the Minta Agua (500 m, with a minimum flow of 800 cubic metres per day). 2. Building an underground dam (Agues Verdes) to boost the output of this spring by about 350 cubic metres per day. The water produced by all these new sources, including the boreholes at Salineiro and S. Joao Baptista (work carried out as part of a borehole programme), will be supplied to Praia down a concrete conduit about 36 km long. A technical prefeasibility study was run for the Trinidade dam (3 km upstream of Praia), which should be able to provide the city with at least 2000 cubic metres of water per day. Additional studies (of economic and technical viability) and the specifications for implementation are being produced with the help of Spanish cooperation.

b) Water supply and drainage, ECU 3.5 million: A study of the modernisation of the water, drainage, sewage and rubbish collection master plan is being run, as is a scheme to reorganise municipal services in Praia and Mindelo and ensure technical assistance for Praia’s water and drainage management. The infrastructure planned here depends on the studies just mentioned and has therefore had to be carried over to the next Convention. Household waste collection and equipment and material have been supplied and the daily collection in Praia doubled as a result.

c) Electricity production, ECU 2.5 million: This involves remodelling the administrative side of the existing power station, installing and connecting 17 medium and low voltage transformer posts and installing a medium voltage supply network of about 18 km and a low voltage supply network of about 36 km. A feasibility study for a new power station (electrical energy production in association with water production) will be started soon.

d) Services to new districts, ECU 4.8 million: In accordance with the recommendations of the master plan, roads etc are being built in the districts of Palmarejo and S. Filipe (85 ha). This will ensure decent conditions for 15 000 people, bring in revenue for the town hall and give a boost to the building trade. Spanish cofinancing helped with the electrical side of this infrastructure and this made it possible to extend the Community operation to other parts of Praia (the industrial areas, the historic centre and link roads to the new districts and new building promotion quarters).

e) Vocational education and training, ECU 2.2 million: Once the studies are complete, Praia’s new technical centre will go up. The building, some 2800 m², is intended for the training of technicians and middle management in the areas in greatest demand on the employment market and will be able to cater for 500 students in stage one. The plan is to turn out 100 technicians and 50 middle-range cadres every year. The EEC will continue supporting the nation’s educational reform programme by providing local study awards so that instructors in additional basic education and secondary teachers can have training.

f) Improvements to urban management, ECU 0.5 million: Local administrative and urbanisation cadres in the various areas of planning and urban management are currently undergoing training in Europe as part of the programme. A further 10 have gone to Morocco to train in cartography and land surveying. A mapping operation to help with the running of priority sector schemes in the country is also being run and cartography and plotting equipment is to be supplied for Cape Verde’s Mapping Centre. An aerial photography and plotting scheme covering virtually the whole of the national territory is due to start very soon.

g) Monitoring, coordination and evaluation, ECU 0.3 million: An inter-ministerial programme monitoring committee has been set up to ensure unified steering of the programme. It combines representatives of all the technical ministries concerned, under the chairmanship of the national authorising officer and its main task is to coordinate the operation.

EIB: The EIB has contributed risk capital to the financing of scheme C (electricity production and supply), specifically for the supply of two 3000 KW generators and three transformers (two of 3000 KW and one of 360 KW). It has also financed changes to the station’s system of combustion, as well as technical assistance and training and also supplied spare parts and automobile, computer and fire-fighting equipment. The EIB financing was ECU 3 million.

Non-programme schemes

Food aid: Here, the EEC has signed the first food aid protocol, on a multiannual basis, in the history of its cooperation. The Community recognised the structural nature of the country’s food shortfall and, in May 1987, awarded multiannual aid, in annual consignments of 9000 tonnes of cereals, 3000 t of milkpowder and 200 t of vegetable oil, for 1987, 1988 and 1989. A further multiannual agreement covering 1990, 1991 and 1992 was signed in May 1990, so supplies of 9000 t of cereals and 800 t of vegetable oil will be sent annually during this time. Since the cereal harvest in 1989-90 was poor, the Community supplied additional food aid (3000 t of cereals) for 1990.

SIP - Sectoral import programme (building materials): When allocating the LomII non-programme reserve in March 1988, the Commission gave an additional ECU 4 million and Cape Verde proposed using this for a sectorial import programme to buy building materials for the construction boom in Praia (particularly for the more underprivileged sections of the population). The imported materials, i.e. redwood, pine, wood derivatives and concrete plaques, are sold on the local market to generate counterpart funds which can then be used to finance the Promebad programme to improve rundown areas (25%), step up the capital of the Cape Verde Savings Bank, which is responsible for building credit, particularly for the poorer sections of the population (25%) and to help with phase two of the building (about 52 houses) of the Housing Promotion Institute, the body in charge of building and allocating economy housing (50%).

Emergency aid - locust control: Successive locust invasions from the Sahel in November 1988 led the Community to provide the country with 3000 litres of insecticide and to cofinance (with Portugal) the provision of a helicopter, which is the best way of spraying in Cape Verde. Locust control was run on Santiago, Fogo and Santo Antao.

Regional cooperation

The meeting of EDF authorising officers in Praia in October 1986 laid down guidelines for Community support in regional cooperation. These are:

Anti-desertification, in particular by:

- improving, preserving and managing the forests;
- controlling and making rational use of underground and surface water;
- protecting and developing the catchment basins of the main rivers.

Cape Verde has not had a great deal of benefit from Sahel regional cooperation so far, because of its peripheral geographical and socio-economic. However, it has been involved in the following schemes.

- Diaper II - Improvements to the permanent regional food security diagnosis system

The idea here is to improve statistical information in the cereals and livestock sectors in the nine countries of the CILSS to make for easier formulation and regional coordination of national food sufficiency policies.

- PRS - Regional solar programme

This is to develop the Sahel’s only plentiful natural resource, solar energy. The idea is to bring in large-scale use of proven photovoltaic equipment in rural areas as an efficient contribution to desertification control, pumping water and improving living conditions thanks to the start of an electricity supply.

- PRG - Regional gas programme

This is to promote butane gas as a wood and charcoal substitute in the Sahel to reduce the demands urban consumers make on the forests.

- Precons - Sahel Regional Reafforestation and Soil Protection Programme

This was designed with the close cooperation of the Cape Verdean authorities and the Delegation with a view to transferring reafforestation and conservation techniques tested and applied in Cape Verde for some years now to other countries in the Sahel. The scheme involves developing and reafforesting 4700 ha of lard on Santiago, Santo Antao and Santo Nicolau, to be used as a training area for Sahelian foresters from other CILSS countries. A forestry handbook, other teaching equipment and training sessions in the CILSS countries are also planned. A lot is expected of this particular scheme, which is a genuine example of South-South transfer of know-how, Cape Verde being a country with a very sound knowledge and very successful record of soil conservation and the wooding of arid terrain.

- PFIE - Regional Environmental Training and Information

This is to make primary school children aware of the threats which desertification poses to the environment and food security in the nine Sahel countries and train them in the techniques of desertification control.

LomV

On 7 December, the LomV (first financial protocol) national indicative programme was signed in Praia. This means the Community will be providing Cape Verde with a total of ECU 27 million, ECU 23 million of it as Commission-managed grants and ECU 4 million as ElB-managed risk capital. This does not include any additional resources from Article 245 or any non-programme aid allocated mid-way through the first financial protocol.

The focal area of Community cooperation will cover the Praia region (or Concelho) and the schemes to be run are aimed at:

- improving the social infrastructure and providing essential goods and services;

- improving the economic environment, in particular on the infrastructure side; - improving the living conditions of the rural and suburban populations in the Concelho de Praia to reduce the flow of people moving into the capital;

- helping the government drive to set up a better urban management system;

- backing up the institutions in charge of managing public services;

- helping develop human resources, particularly in technical education.

The Community aid will involve schemes to:

- produce drinking water, by continuing schemes to improve drinking water availability;

- supply water and drainage facilities and collect household waste;

- produce and supply electricity and lay on supplies in the rural areas and around the town;

- build roads to the new districts, in particular to the industrial ones, with a view to promoting the private sector;

- improve the Praia Cartography and Surveying Department;

- reinforce the start-up and operation of the Praia technical school by providing technical assistance and running training schemes;

- give technical support to improve the departments and institutions responsible for running the projects and managing the instruments as part of a sectoral policy.

A protocol of intent on the EIB operations has also been signed and Cape Verde has said it hopes to present projects in the following areas for financing:

- transport: a Port of Mindelo modernisation programme;

- SME: SME promotion schemes;

- energy: electrical energy and water production and distribution projects.

The Cape Verdean Government has set out its regional cooperation priorities along three lines.

- Continuation of the anti-desertification and food security drives to reflect the guidelines laid down at the Praia meeting of October 1986, in connection with the other countries of West Africa. - Given its special geographical and cultural situation, Cape Verde hopes to get financing for cooperation on training, culture etc with other Portuguese-speaking nations.

- The same goes for the countries in the Caribbean, bearing in mind the similarity of these island countries’ tourist, transport and trade problems.

EEC-Cape Verde fisheries agreement

The Community and Cape Verde initialled an agreement on fishing off Cape Verde on 12 January 1990. This document, signed for an initial period of three years with the possibility of a two-year extension, means that Community vessels can now fish in Cape Verde’s fishing zone. It authorises 45 vessels - 21 tuna ships using seine-nets, 24 tuna canners and surface trawlers - to fish for highly migratory species, two bottom trawlers to fish for demersal species and two experimental ships to fish for cephalopods in Cape Verdean waters.

Financial compensation and the experimental fishing will give Cape Verde ECU 1950 000 over the three-year period. There will also be an ECU 500 000 scientific and technical programme and ECU 160 000-worth of study and practical training awards will be granted.

J.M.D.S.

(introduction...)

‘A land with a small and scattered population, where the sun beats down on sparsely vegetated mountains, on endless desert dunes and rocky plains that resemble Martian landscapes. A country with a singularly desolate coastline, river beds where water seldom flows, bizarre plants... What can one find alluring in such a place?’

With these opening words, a Namibian tourist brochure seeks to capture the imagination of the potential visitor. The allure, of course, is that of wide open spaces for the crowded city dweller, of’ vistas unpolluted by petrol fumes and of genuine wilderness where raw nature rather than mankind’s imprint overwhelms the senses.

There is, however, a great deal more to Namibia than stark and beautiful landscapes. A nation is elevated from the status of mere geographical entity by its people, whether widely scattered or densely packed. It is they who supply the definition for the concept of’ nationhood, and who must collectively meet its challenges.

For the people of Namibia, March 21 1990 was the day when long-overdue nationhood became a reality. On that day, after decades of colonial occupation, the territory which was formerly South West Africa joined the international community of nations. The transition to independence was by no means painless. It was preceded by years of fighting in the north of the country between members of the South West Africa People’s Organisation (SWAPO) and the South African military - a war which brought misery and destruction to many northern communities and threatened to leave a legacy of division and mistrust. During the years of South-African occupation, Namibia had also had an apartheid system with no fewer than 11 separate racial categories, each confined to its own designated area. Alongside this, there were enormous disparities in wealth with the white ‘community ‘ controlling most of’ the resources. The majority black population, by contrast, was marginalised in the economic system and excluded altogether from the exercise of political power.

Despite the fact that a number of reforms preceded full independence (many elements of the apartheid system had already gone), the new Namibian Government was clearly facing major challenges. In this Country Report, which also marks Namibia’s accession to the Lomonvention as the 69th member of the ACP group, we look at some of these challenges and assess how they are being tackled. Namibia has just celebrated its first birthday and while a year is too short a time to draw definite conclusions, it is an opportune moment to assess the current state of progress.

Geography

In order to understand the issues which face Namibia today, it is necessary to look, albeit briefly, at the factors which have led to its present economic and demographic structure. The geography of the country is clearly of prime importance and human settlement has long been conditioned by the availability of water. Namibia has three principal types of terrain - desert, semi-desert and dry savanna. The Namib desert stretches the full length of the coast to a distance of 80130 km inland, gradually giving way to semi-desert conditions where the limited vegetation allows for some sheep and goat breeding. In the south east of the country, the Kalahari desert straddles the frontier with Botswana. Wedged between them two arid zones, the whole of the southern central region qualifies as semidesert, while further north, there is dry savanna which is suitable for cattle. One notable feature in the north is the Etosha Pan, a salty, sterile plain the size of the Netherlands, which was once a lake. In the north eastern corner of the country, a narrow tongue of land called the Caprivi Strip stretches for hundreds of kilometres into the heart of Africa, giving Namibia a common boundary with Zambia. This geographical curiosity owes its existence to the colonial days, when Germany sought and gained access to the Zambesi River. Caprivi has a noticeably wetter climate than the rest of the country.

Despite the unpromising conditions, agriculture has been and will almost certainly continue to be vital to Namibia’s economy. Irrigation has allowed for more intensive cultivation and stock breeding to be developed in a number of locations.

Animal and plant life may face a struggle on land in Namibia, but the coastal waters present an astonishing contrast. Thanks to the benevolent influence of the cold Benguela current, they are rich with nutrients and have the potential to be among the best fishing grounds in the world. Sadly, it is only potential at the moment because of the depredations of man. Even the best-stocked seas can be trawled to extinction and this is what almost happened before Namibian independence. Exploiting the international legal uncertainty over the status of Namibia’s waters during the South African occupation, various fleets of foreign vessels effectively declared ‘open house’ in the region and although Namibia imposed a moratorium as soon as it could, it will take many years for the fish stocks to recover.

It is a curious irony that the Benguela current, with its immense maritime riches, is also responsible for the formation of the Namib desert. The cold waters which have lapped the coast over many centuries, are resistant to evaporation and capture any rains formed in mid-ocean, before they can reach the shore. Deprived of moisture, the coastal zone is one of the most barren areas on earth. Despite the absence of vegetation, the Namib desert has considerable mineral-wealth - notably diamonds and uranium, which are major contributors to the country’s economy.

North of the coastal resort of Swakopmund, is the infamous Skeleton Coast - so-called because it is littered with the remains of innumerable shipwrecks.

Early history

The geography of Namibia has clearly influenced the distribution of its population and this, in turn has had a major impact on the country’s history. In precolonial times, there were settled crop-growing communities in the north while the central and southern regions were inhabited respectively by herders of cattle and of smaller livestock (sheep and goats). The Namib and Kalahari desert areas were largely uninhabited.

Like so many African nations, modern Namibia’s boundaries stem from the colonial period. Colonialism came late to the territory thanks to the inhospitable coastline but incursions by the Germans and the British nevertheless took place during the nineteenth century. The British annexed the only suitable site for a deep water port on the coast (Walvis Bay) while the Germans seized the only other harbour of any significance (Luderitz). Meanwhile, the local inhabitants living in the hinterland saw increasing numbers of missionaries and traders from the Cape Province. Namibia’s current boundaries were fixed at the 1884 Congress of Berlin which confirmed the German Protectorate of South West Africa and left Walvis Bay in the hands of the British. For modern Namibia, this division of territorial spoils by the European powers more than a century ago continues to cast a shadow in the form of South Africa’s continuing occupation of the only deep water port on the coast.

The Herero War

As German colonists moved in to the already settled southern and central areas, often dispossessing the local inhabitants of both land and cattle, tensions between the settlers and indigenous inhabitants increased. This culminated in 1904, in a revolt by the Herero - - joined shortly afterwards by the Nama people in the south - against the Germans. The ‘Herero War’ was a brutal affair, in which the colonial power used its superior weaponry to devastating effect. Civilian inhabitants were not spared and although the Nama continued to fight, using guerilla tactics, for two years, the Germans finally prevailed. In the course of the war, the local population of the region was reduced by more than half, prompting some writers to describe it as genocide. Thereafter’ the Herero and Nama people lost their lands and their societies were all but destroyed. Many were forced into working for the colonists by a combination of legislation and economic necessity while others fled to Botswana to resume their traditional cattle breeding. In contrast to the position in the centre and south of Namibia, the more populated north was not conquered and the independent African kingdoms of that region remained largely in control of their domains.

The next important phase in Namibia’s turbulent history came with the First World War. While most of the combatants’ efforts were directed towards the ever-elusive breakthrough in the trenches of Flanders and France, the conflict was acted out, on a smaller scale in those parts of Africa where German colonies bordered British or French ones. In 1915, South Africa (as part of the British Empire) invaded German South West Africa and quickly defeated the small defending garrison. At the conclusion of the war, the League of Nations’ mandate system was established and responsibility for Namibia was vested in the British Crown. The Union of South Africa was given the ‘sacred trust’ of administering the territory for, among other things, ‘the well-being and development of the indigenous population’. Thus began the era of South African domination.

South African mandate

From the outset, it was clear that the South Africa Government regarded its mandate as a territorial gain - a bonus for being on the winning side in the war - rather than a sacred trust. As racial segregation became increasingly institutionalised in South Africa, the same system was extended to Namibia. Large numbers of white (mainly Afrikaans speaking) South Africans settled in the territory, acquiring the best farmland and the local inhabitants were forced to move to less fertile reserves where little economic development took place. In the towns, the African populations were obliged to live in specially designated areas in the outskirts (the first ‘townships’).

After the Second World War, the South African Government sought the full incorporation of Namibia into its territory. In this, it was supported by the all-white legislature of South West Africa which had been established in the meantime. The United Nations General Assembly refused to sanction this, asserting that the original League of Nations mandate still applied. Relations between South Africa and the UN deteriorated in the post war period, as the former persisted in ignoring the terms of the mandate and as the world increasingly objected to the racial policies pursued by the Pretoria Government.

In 1964, South Africa legislated for the establishment of a full apartheid system in Namibia, based on 11 population groups and the creation of 10 separate ‘homelands’. The white ‘community’ retained control of most of the land, including the most fertile areas and strict rules were enforced to ensure racial segregation in housing, education and social services.

Liberation movement

For the non-white population of Namibia, the 1950s saw the initial flowering of organised opposition to the South African occupation. The Ovamboland People’s Organisation was established during that decade and in 1960, it formed the basis for the new South West Africa People’s Organisation (SWAPO) which was committed to an independent and non-racial Namibia. In the international arena, an attempt by Liberia and Ethiopia to obtain a judgment at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) that the South African occupation was unlawful, foundered on the procedural issue of locus standi. With South Africa refusing to budge, and an apparent impasse on the world stage, SWAPO announced that it was taking up the struggle with arms, and so began the long war.

In fact, events at the United Nations soon moved in favour of an independent Namibia. In 1966, the General Assembly voted, under powers inherited from the defunct League of Nations, to terminate South Africa’s mandate in South West Africa, on the grounds that the former had failed to comply with its obligations under the mandate. Following the procedural failure of the first ICJ hearing, a second action was brought which sidestepped the problem of legal standing. This took the form of a request for an advisory opinion on the status of Namibia which resulted in a legally authoritative statement declaring that South Africa’s continuing occupation of the territory was unlawful and that it was under an obligation to withdraw. However, by this time, South Africa was largely isolated from international fore and its Government professed indifference to the forces of international public opinion. Accordingly, no steps were taken to comply with the judgment and it was not possible to enforce it in practice. The war continued.

Although South Africa had significant military superiority, they were faced with the classic difficulties of an occupying power. Their opponents waged guerilla warfare, and sustained by their commitment to the cause of liberation, they presented South Africa with the prospect of interminable conflict, albeit waged intermittently. In addition, political pressures at home, where young whites were being conscripted to fight in Namibia, began to build up. It became increasingly clear that while the occupiers were probably too strong to lose the war, they could not win it either.

South Africa also had to face up to the reality of its own position. Apartheid was, by now, universally reviled and in an interdependent world, it is not possible to ignore indefinitely, the opprobrium of others, particularly when they are important trading partners. In 1978, the so-called Western Contact Group drew up a plan for the independence of Namibia, which was subsequently backed by the United Nations. South Africa, recognising the increasing untenability of its position, accepted the plan in principle.

Independence delayed

Withdrawal, however, was to be delayed for more than a decade. This was due, ostensibly, to the continuing presence of Cuban troops in neighbouring Angola. The South African army, operating from northern Namibia, had become embroiled in Angola’s civil war, in support of the UNITA forces who were fighting the Luanda Government. South Africa stipulated that their own withdrawal from Namibia depended on Cuban withdrawal from Angola and this was only finally achieved when the thaw in East-West relations made agreement possible.

Although the ten-year delay was a frustration for supporters of Namibian independence, arguably, the time was not entirely wasted. Various elements of the apartheid system were dismantled and South Africa moved to establish a form of internal self-government. There were even elections held. SWAPO refund to participate in this process, and persuaded large numbers of potential voters to boycott the poll, arguing that it was designed to undermine the UN proposals for elections under international supervision. If this was indeed the intention, then it clearly failed, but seen in retrospect, the delay may have helped to ease the transition from occupation and an undiluted apartheid system to independence and full legal equality.

The final events in the run up to independence took place in 1989 when Resolution 435 was implemented. After a period to draw up electoral lists, a multiparty election - supervised by a United Nations peacekeeping force - was held in November. Contesting the election for the first time as a legal political party, SWAPO emerged victorious with 57% of the votes as against the 29% polled by the Democratic Turnhalle Alliance (DTA - the former ‘government’). Before the Namibian nag could be raised, however, the new Constituent Assembly had to agree on a constitution for the country. A two thirds majority was required and given the electoral arithmetic - a system of proportional representation had guaranteed a fair distribution of seats - the parties were obliged to work together to reach a mutually acceptable arrangement. The result, which was achieved in a remarkably short space of time, was a liberal constitution which enshrines the principles of free association, free speech and pluralism. On February IX, Sam Nujoma, the long-standing leader of SWAPO was unanimously elected President of Namibia. Thirty-three days later, the South African flag was lowered in Windhoek for the last time and independent Namibia was born.

National reconciliation

It was clearly not a painless birth. Given the long years of conflict which preceded independence, and the fact that the majority of the population had been subjected to the indignities of apartheid until very recently, one might well have expected a legacy of bitterness. White Namibians had fought with the South Africans and much of the apparatus of the new state was in the hands of people associated with the ancien regime. While the constitution guaranteed equality before the law, there were still enormous disparities of wealth. At the same time, any precipitate action aimed at wealth redistribution could have led to a flight of expertise and capital from the country. It is a tribute to the Government and to other participants in the Namibian political system that reconciliation rather than retribution, was chosen as the watchword. In the interests of stability, the Government of President Nujoma guaranteed the jobs of all existing civil servants and adopted a liberal economic policy designed to attract investment from abroad, and to reassure economic operators at home.

Although applauded by western commentators, the policy is not without risk. The Government’s supporters are, to a large extent, the less well-off members of Namibian society who are impatient to benefit from the fruits of independence. The failure of socialist systems elsewhere gives the Government a powerful argument for not embarking on that particular road, but wealth creation using the free enterprise model takes time and does not necessarily help the most needy. The Namibian authorities must, therefore, strike a balance which alleviates the difficulties of its poorest citizens without stifling the enterprise which is necessary for future prosperity. This, of course, is the central issue facing most free enterprise democracies, but it is particularly acute for a country with such extremes of poverty and wealth, and with the wounds of recent history to heal.

The people

The population structure of Namibia reflects the country’s chequered history. It is a multi-racial society with people of African, European and mixed origin. The largest single group, representing some 50% of the population, are the Ovambo who live mainly in the north of the country. The other African groups, none of which constitute more than 10% of the population are the Kavango, Herero. Damara, Nama, Caprivian, Bushman and Tswana. The white population, represents 6-8% of the overall total There is also a sizeable coloured community as well as a distinct group, of mixed race origin, based on the town of Rehoboth. Estimates of the total population vary considerably, but it is generally thought to be in the region of 1.5 million.

Linguistically, the picture is equally varied. The majority of the African population speak Oshivango languages but there are numerous other tribal languages reflecting the diversity noted above. White Namibians fall into two categories, the German-speakers who are descended from the original colonists and those of South African origin, most of whom speak Afrikaans. The latter is also the language of the coloured population and indeed, is the effective lingua franca of Namibia.

Shortly after independence, the Government decided to adopt English as the sole official language of the country. This is a policy which is likely to have both advantages and disadvantages. On the plus side, it is a major international medium of communication which should facilitate Namibia in its relations with other states. Additionally, and somewhat ironically, it does not suffer from being associated with colonialism. There is considerable enthusiasm among Namibians for learning English and because it is virtually nobody’s native language, it could have a useful unifying influence. Herein lies its major flaw, however. As the native tongue of so few Namibians, it must be developed from a relatively low base and this will inevitably impose an economic cost in the short term. It remains to be seen whether the education system, in particular, can maintain or enhance the standards which are vital for the country’s future economic development, if the original plans for a rapid changeover to English instruction are carried through.

The economy

Reference has already been made to the economic inequalities which still characterise Namibian society. In a recently published booklet, the country was described as having a ‘dualistic’ economic system with 70% of the people living in a third world economy, 25% in transition between the third and first and only 5% enjoying full first world economic conditions. The 70% are primarily the rural populations while the 25% are those who have moved to urban areas. The fact that Namibia’s GDP per head, at $1273 in 1988, is the second highest in sub-Saharan Africa must be seen in this context. The average in this case clearly gives a false impression of the country’s development needs and this is something which has been recognised by Namibia’s cooperating partners, including the European Community.

On the positive side, it is generally agreed that Namibia has significant potential for economic development. The economy, at independence was portrayed as a ‘coiled spring’ which, once released from the restraints of the colonial system, would quickly expand. A year later, this assessment appears a little optimistic - there has been no immediate burgeoning of economic activity and some existing sectors may indeed contract, but there are also growth areas. With a favourable investment climate, continuing political stability and a suitable development strategy, the Government can realistically aim at bridging the gap between rich and poor through economic growth without having to resort to measures such as punitive taxation.

Reliance on trade

In 1989 approximately half of Namibia’s economic activity was in the tertiary sector (see pie chart). On the production side, the economy is very heavily oriented towards raw materials. Namibia exports large quantities of primary products - notably uranium, diamonds, copper and beef. At the same time, it has to import most of its essential needs for manufactured or processed items (food, consumer durables, mechanical and electronic equipment etc). This means that the country is highly dependent on trade, and in particular on the state of the market for the relatively few raw materials which constitute the bulk of its exports. Given this vulnerability, the Government is keen to diversify the economy and it is strongly committed to increasing value-added production, through the establishment of new industries. With such a small population, Namibia cannot be expected to supply all of its consumer needs from domestic manufacturing but there is clearly scope for some import substitution.

Namibia has chosen in the meantime to remain part of the Southern Africa Customs Union (SACU) but, as an independent state, it obviously has the right to withdraw from this arrangement should it so choose. (It also uses the South African rend but this is soon to be replaced by a new currency - the Namibian dollar which will initially be fixed at par with the rend).


GDP by major sectors in 1989

In cash terms, the most important sector in the Namibian economy is mining, the country having been blessed with a wide range of mineral deposits. There are some forty mines in operation and these produce uranium, diamonds, copper, gold, arsenic, lead, zinc, cadmium, antimony, lithium, tin, silver, fluorspar and sulphur. Admittedly, some of the production is on a very small scale - only eight of the mines employ more than 200 people - but the first two products listed are very important indeed to the Namibian economy (see article on mining later in this Report).


GDP by kind of economic activity in 1989

The mining industry is experiencing some difficulties at present, with uranium production at the giant Rossing Mine being scaled down, and a decline in the extraction of both diamonds and other base metals. In the longer term, however, the prospects are less discouraging and there is considerable scope for newer exploration. Although mining is the largest sectoral contributor to Namibia’s economy, in employment terms, agriculture continues to be the most important economic activity. It is also in this sector that the ‘dualism’ mentioned previously is most pronounced. On the one hand, there is a relatively small number of prosperous commercial farmers who breed mainly cattle and karakul sheep for the export market. On the other, there is a very large rural population, particularly in the north, engaged in subsistence farming, who depend on the land for their livelihood. This division is, to a certain extent, geographical, with the veterinary control fence (the so-called ‘red-line’) which separates the north from the rest of the country determining whether the product can have access to a wider market.

At present, although some 70% of the population depend directly or indirectly on agriculture, the sector contributes less than 10% to Namibia’s total GDP. In addition to beef and cattle, Namibia produces sheep for mutton, goats and a very limited range of crops. There is potential for considerable expansion of crop-growing in the Caprivi and Kavango regions.

Prospects for fishing

Fishing is the industry which would appear to offer the best prospects for expansion in the medium term.

Namibia’s fishing industry is based mainly in Walvis Bay and clearly, a favourable resolution of the territorial dispute with South Africa would provide a boost to the economy as a whole. The Government is also keen to see more fish being landed in the country’s ports for processing, thus adding value to the Namibian the Namibian end, and stimulating local employment. (For a more detailed assessment of the position in the agriculture and fisheries sectors, see the series of articles later in this Report).

Other economic sectors which the Namibian Government hopes to see expanded include industry and tourism. Very little manufacturing takes place in the country at the moment and there are clearly limits to what is feasible, given the small local market and the transport costs associated with exporting of manufactured goods. The main focus here will be to develop the processing of existing primary production in order that the benefit of the added value can accrue to Namibia itself. Tourism offers real possibilities. Already, the attractions of the country - the climate, geography, wildlife etc - are being marketed in Europe and although Namibia is unlikely ever to develop mass tourism (mercifully!) it can offer a ‘quality’ product at the appropriate price for a specialised tourist market.

Infrastructure

In the quest for economic development, Namibia is fortunate in having a good infrastructure already in place, in comparison with many other developing countries. The road network, in particular, is of a high standard with good tarred roads linking all the major towns, and secondary gravel roads which are in a reasonable condition. Even here, there is something of a north/south divide, however, with poorer road conditions in the north (particularly secondary routes) hindering the prospects for economic growth.

For a large African country with a small population, Namibia also has a surprisingly extensive railway network although the only international link is with South Africa. Various schemes for linking with other neighbouring countries have been mooted, including the possibility of a connection with Zambia and the Central African network, which would bring economic benefits to the Caprivi Strip. The railways are mainly used for transporting goods but there should be considerable potential for expanding both freight and passenger usage. Given that the main line runs from the port of Walvis Bay through Windhoek to the border with South Africa, it represents a major transport artery which could have an important part to play in the process of economic development. The main problem for the railways al present, is the lack of suitable maintenance facilities. Heavy repairs have to be carried out in South Africa, at considerable cost. It is also worth noting that most of the populated north is not connected to the railway system which is a further disadvantage in terms of mobility and access to markets.

As one would expect, air transport plays a significant role in providing connections between the widely spaced population centres. Most towns have airstrips and there are regular domestic flights. The hub of this system is the domestic airport in Windhoek. There is also an international airport some 50 km from the capital with scheduled flights various cities in Southern Africa. The national airline flies direct to Frankfurt and recent new services introduced include a direct link between Windhoek and Paris.

Walvis Bay

South Africa’s continued occupation of Walvis Bay which is the only deep water port on the coast, means that Namibia is dependent on its southern neighbour for the bulk of its maritime trade. Luderitz handles some cargo but it is too shallow for the larger draught ships, and is too distant from the centres where freight either originates or is destined to be sent. Although the United Nations recognises Namibian sovereignty over the enclave of Walvis Bay, and there is no geographical logic in the current arrangement, South Africa has not explicitly indicated that it is prepared to relinquish the territory. However, the two sides are talking, and there seems to be a feeling in Namibia that the matter will be solved in their favour sooner rather than later. It remains to be seen whether this confidence is justified. (South Africa also occupies a number of tiny offshore islands, which is an even greater absurdity, but the effect is to cause some uncertainty about fishing rights which hinders Namibia’s efforts to implement a sustainable fisheries policy).

In the centre and south of the country, public utilities such as the electricity and water supplies, and the telephone system, are of a high standard. The country’s electricity needs are met during the rain) season by the output of the Ruacana hydro-electric scheme (Namibia even exports power to South Africa at this time). In the dry periods, power also comes from a coalfired plant in Windhoek, a diesel plant in Walvis Bay and from South Africa. The Namibian Government has concluded that the country’s present generating capacity is insufficient for its development needs and it is looking at the possibility of a new hydro-electric scheme at Epupa on the Cunene River in the north. Large areas of the north do not yet have mains electricity or access to the other utility networks and remedying this is another of the Government’s development priorities.

Health and education infrastructures in Namibia vary enormously, the north/ south divide again being prominent. In Windhoek and other southern or central towns, there are some very well equipped schools and hospitals. In the north, however, the position is very different with a lack of buildings, facilities, teachers and medical personnel. The Government has recognised that major investment is needed to close the gap, and considerable development assistance from overseas is likely to be directed towards this goal.

Future prospects

It would be surprising if a nation in the first flush of independence did not look to the future with optimism. When Namibia took to the international stage in March 1990, expectations within the country were high and confident predictions were made about a surge in economic growth and greater prosperity, particularly for the poorest members of society. A year later, the view is perhaps more sanguine but still decidedly positive. Nor is it a euphoric or inchoate sentiment unrelated to objective reality. The current optimism of the Namibians is based rather on a sober and realistic assessment of the country’s potential. The Government, in opting for reconciliation and a mixed economy, has made clear its intention of following a pragmatic line. A great deal has been done to ‘sell’ Namibia to the potential foreign investor (including a liberal Foreign Investment Act and a recent and highly successful investors’ conference). Foreign assistance has been sought for essential development projects but the Government has made clear its determination to avoid the so-called ‘dependency culture’ and within the severe limitations of the budget, Government borrowing has been minimised. The democratic system appears to be working well, supported by Government and opposition alike. All of this is good news for Namibian businesses and for the entrepreneur who can bring investment and employment to the country.

The most fundamental requirement for sustained economic success, however, is stability and it is here that the Government’s social policies will be crucial. With their background, the SWAPO ministers clearly have a philosophical commitment to alleviate the widespread poverty which exists in Namibia. They also know that a stable and democratic system is less firmly rooted if there is a large and dispossessed ‘underclass’. With these factors in mind, they have embarked on a series of reforms and programmes designed to reduce the enormous inequalities which exist.

The problem’ as stated earlier, lies in finding the right balance between economic and social policies in a way which both maximises growth and enhances social cohesion. The fruits of development can be frustratingly slow in making themselves felt, and human expectations tend to be more immediate. After little more than a year, it is too early to say whether Namibia has found the right balance. One cannot but admire, however, the positive way in which the Namibians have drawn a line under the past, and in their quest for unity and prosperity, they certainly deserve to succeed.

Simon HORNER

Consolidating democracy

When Namibians voted in November 1989, in the UN-supervised election for a constitutive assembly, the future mould of the country’s politics was yet to be cast. The poll was conducted in a democratic atmosphere and the system gave everyone a vote of equal value, but the structure of government was still to be hammered out. This would be the job of the new assembly and the final transition to independence could only be achieved once that body had agreed (by a two thirds majority) on a new constitution.

Few commentators doubted that the South West Africa People’s Organisation (SWAPO) would emerge victorious. The question mark was over whether the party of Sam Nujoma could gain the necessary two thirds support to allow it to determine the provisions of the constitution on its own.

In the event, SWAPO did not succeed in reaching this threshold, and the party was obliged to seek compromise with other groupings in the Assembly. Given the recent history of Namibia, one might have expected a long and acrimonious process before a constitution could be agreed but, to the relief of Namibians and the admiration of the outside world, a new liberal constitution was adopted in a remarkably short space of time.

Eighteen months after the election, the general view is that Namibian democracy has bedded down reasonably well. Despite occasional, unsubstantiated rumours about coupe, and some opposition criticism of the activities of the Presidential Guard, the country’s politics are dominated by economic and social issues. The press clearly operates freely and there is robust debate over the policies of both government and opposition (although there is some concern that it is perhaps a little too robust). The tone of discussion in the national assembly would not seem unfamiliar to many Europeans as the various political parties lay out their stalls for public scrutiny.

Much of the credit for this situation must go to Sam Nujoma, the country’s President. Not only has he successfully guided his liberation organisation into the arena of electoral politics but he has also made a clean break with the past in committing the government to a process of national reconciliation. He has earned wide respect, even among political opponents for his vision, and is now regarded by many as the ‘father of the nation’.

Outside observers also credit the main opposition party, the Democratic Turnhalle Alliance (DTA), with having contributed positively to the political process. In an interview with the Courier, the party’s President, Mishek Muyongo, emphasised the importance of maintaining a peaceful atmosphere for political dialogue and spoke of the DTA’s commitment to operating within the democratic framework.


Results of Namibia’s first election November 1989

The divisions between the two main parties are primarily about policies. SWAPO, although it has embraced the market system as the basis for economic progress, may be characterised as a centre-left party which gives a high priority to social reform. The DTA, according to Mr Muyongo, places ‘a lot of emphasis on private enterprise - and on giving it the leeway to stimulate economic development’. Broadly speaking this places it on the centre-right. Both parties agree on the importance of political stability for economic growth. Smaller parties represented in Parliament include the United Democratic Front (UDF), an offshoot of SWAPO and National Christian Action (ACN), a right wing grouping which is linked to the South African National Party.

The existence of a recognisable left/right division founded on a broad underlying economic consensus may be comforting for possible outside investors, but there is also a certain ethnic polarisation. SWAPO derives the bulk of its support from the Ovambo population who are mainly in the north of the country while the DTA’s vote is strongest among the various minority groupings. Of course, this division could be attributed to the relative prosperity of the different groups. In a left/right political spectrum, the voter’s perception of his own standard of living vis-is the norm is a powerful influence on his voting behaviour. At the same time, political divisions along tribal lines, whether they be in Northern Ireland, Yugoslavia or Southern Africa, pose a latent threat to stability. The Namibian political parties are acutely conscious of this and they are all keen to widen their political base. The broadly based composition of the Cabinet is a good illustration of SWAPO’s determination to avoid the kind of ethnic polarisation which currently afflicts so many countries in both Europe and Africa.

Although it is early days to pass judgment on the strength of the Namibian democratic system, few would disagree that the Namibians have made a good start in circumstances which, at least to the outsider, seemed less than auspicious at the outset.

An interview with Prime Minister Geingob: partnership with business to create wealth

Mr Hage Geingob, the Prime Minister of Namibia was in Brussels in December to sign the Lomonvention on behalf of his country. Following the signing ceremony, he spoke at a press conference about the importance of Namibia’s accession to the Convention and about a wide range of other issues.

Mr Geingob began by emphasising how independence had ‘changed the equation ‘for Namibia, with new contacts and opportunities opening up for trade and investment. He said that Namibia was inviting the private sector to come and invest in the country. In this regard, the most important factor was stability, and he stressed that Namibia was a ‘good risk ‘.

The Prime Minister was quizzed about the outcome of the negotiations which had resulted in Namibia becoming the 69th member of the ACP group. On meeting the quota for beef which had been agreed (10 500 tonnes of Namibian beef may be exported to the Community’ annually) he said that Namibian farmers had been told they must respond. He also underlined the need to expand this opportunity for export beyond the commercial operations, to existing communal farmers. The latter’s basic problems, he said, were in the areas of training and access to loans. On the subject of South Africa’s continuing occupation of Walvis Bay, Mr Geingob intimated that negotiations had already begun at Foreign Minister level. He emphasised his Government’s position, reflected in UN Resolution no 432, that Walvis Bay is a part of Namibia and that it must be reintegrated. Although Namibia had not yet brought an action before the ICJ on this issue, this option could riot be ruled out in the future. Asked about when Namibia would raise its moratorium on fishing by foreign vessels in its waters, Mr Geingob said that new, arrangements would soon be proposed. Until a proper agreement was reached, however, ships should stay away. He also noted the conclusions of some studies that fishing was likely to surpass mining as the most important economic activity in Namibia.

After the press conference, Mr Geingob granted an exclusive interview to the COURIER, which is published below:

· Prime Minister, now that Namibia has signed the Lomonvention and joined the ACP group, what sectors do you think are likely to be the main focus of EC-Namibia cooperation in the future? What are the priority areas for EDF-funding?

- We have already identified four priority areas. Firstly, there is education. This is a big problem because you cannot think of development without education. There are many aspects to it so we will narrow down some areas that we can finance from development assistance. The same is true of the health problem where apartheid legacies are apparent. Then we have housing - low income housing provision is very important - and agriculture, to provide food for our people. Those are the four basic areas that the funding could be channelled through.

· There seems to a strong current flowing throughout the world in favour of free market economic policies and against state intervention. What role do you envisage for the state in the Namibian economy?

- We have stated in our Constitution that there will be a mixed economy which in a way, also foresees some kind of involvement from the state in certain areas. If you are dealing with an economy like Namibia’s, which is so lopsided in favour of one sector and if the free market economy fails to correct that, then somebody has to be involved in saying you must do something here’. So there will be a requirement for state intervention in certain areas. But we are at the same time, completely agreeable to a free market economy. That is why we have established our business people as partners in this process. We have told them, ‘you are the creators of wealth and the government is the distributor’. So, therefore, we are working in partnership.

· Although the economic statistics for Namibia suggest an overall position which is quite encouraging, compared with other parts of Africa, the distribution of income is very uneven. How do you plan to set about narrowing the gap?

- That is the biggest problem we face. We have to create the wealth in order to tackle it. We must bring in capital to Namibia, to create small industries and to revamp the building and manufacturing sectors, to start with, so as to provide jobs. The idea is that if we can create jobs, we can earn something and that, in itself aids the process of narrowing the gap.

· Namibia’s economy depends on a high level of both imports and exports. Do you see this as a problem? Are you considering any measures to reduce Namibia’s trade dependency?

- Yes. As I said, the manufacturing sector must be addressed, [v produce more for the home market. There is also the processing sector we could easily process the charcoal pelts in Namibia and so provide jobs there. The aim is the provision of jobs. And then take beef, for instance. At the moment we have to get our beef from South Africa our own beef which we export and then buy back in processed form. On the agricultural side’ I think we can feed ourselves, but currently, we are importing nearly all our food from South Africa! So these are the areas we are going to embark on to extend our agriculture.

· Prior to independence’ major elements of South Africa’s apartheid system were imposed on Namibia, notably the so-called system of ‘separate development’ based on the territorial separation of different racial groups and communities. To what extent does this legacy still cause problems today, and what efforts are being made to normalise the situation?

- The fact that the country was carved up’ with certain areas allocated to this tribe or that tribe, was a very big problem. Now political equality has been created through our basic law that is our Constitution, which states that a Namibian can now live where he wants to, and own property in any part of the country. That is the answer at one level, but it is not the complete answer. We must equally, educate all our people mentally, to free them from the colonial mentality based on operating on separate lines the tribes and so on, so that they can do things for themselves. Recently, I have travelled all over the country, talking to people and asking what it is they want from the Government. In 1991 I am going to present a White Paper to the Parliament dealing with the policy aspects of the problem. This is something which has come from the regions and from the people themselves. As part of the same process’ we have a delimitation committee which will come up with new boundaries not based on the previous arrangements - for the regions within Namibia.

· Does Namibia intend to remain par! of the Southern Africa Customs Union?

- It’s not a question of wanting to, but at the moment, we do not have the option. At a certain moment’ we will have to consider what the benefits are for use and to assess what we have gained from the arrangement. Then we will consider whether it is worth continuing. If it is the wish of the Namibian people, we will stay if not we will get out. At the moment however, we have no choice.

· We have seen an increased emphasis in development policy in recent years, on strengthening regional cooperation. In the context of Southern Africa, what benefits do you think such an approach can bring to Namibia?

- On the subject of regional cooperation, we are certainly learning from Europe. It is true to say that unity is strength and we must have regional cooperation to revive the African economies. I am very hopeful on that score. For a country which is so young, Namibia is very active at a regional level (SADCC) and I look forward to this continuing.

Interview by S.H.

An interview with Vice-President Marin: the political and constitutional success of Namibia is now a model for change in Africa

· It was you who conducted the negotiations on behalf of the Community for the accession of Namibia to the Lomonvention. How did you carry out this process?

- I visited Namibia for the first time in February 1990. I had the opportunity then to inform President Nujoma of the importance attached, and support given by the Commission over many years to the struggle for the independence of the Namibian people. From a personal point of view, I was struck by the political maturity which Namibia displayed, and by the spirit of reconciliation which characterised the work of the Constitutive Assembly. I believe that the speed with which the Constitution was drawn up underscored the determination of Namibians - of all persuasions - to put an end to the confrontations of the past and to work on building the nation.

In these circumstances I was naturally very satisfied when, a mere nine days after gaining independence. Namibia lodged its official request to accede to the Lomonvention.

On the side of the Community, as well as that of the ACP countries, there was no argument about the principle of Namibian accession. The negotiations for the renewal of the Convention explicitly foresaw the entry of Namibia once it had moved to independence and made an application to join. Accordingly, the negotiations with the Namibian Government focused solely on the specific problems which Namibia chose to raise and which were not already covered by the general provisions of LomV.

· What particular elements were covered in the accession process?

- In order to take full account of the particular circumstances of the Namibian economy, it was considered necessary to make a number of specific arrangements, notably in four areas. These were: conferring least developed status on the country for a period of five years, with the possibility of extension; inclusion of Karakul pelts in the Stabex system: continued membership of the Southern Africa Customs Union and establishment of a beef protocol.

It was this last point which proved to be the most difficult to settle. Having heard the Namibian viewpoint, and recognising the importance of this sector for the country, I proposed an annual quota of 15 000 tonnes. Following what were undeniably difficult negotiations in the Commission and the Council of Ministers, Namibia obtained an annual quota of 10 500 tonnes of deboned beef for this year and 1992, rising to 13 000 tonnes for the remaining three years of the beef protocol.

It is my view that these arrangements which we succeeded in obtaining, along with the general provisions of the Convention, represent an overall package which can make a significant contribution to Namibia’s development. It was against this background that all the implementing measures were agreed by Trade Minister Amathila and myself on 19 and 20 November 1990.

· Do you think that Namibia’s independece process could provide an example for other countries?

- Certainly. The political and constitutional success of Namibia is now a model for change and democracy in Africa - doubly so in southern Africa.

In the first place, Namibia has shown that peace and national reconciliation are vital if one wishes to achieve the objective of rapid economic growth with social justice. Secondly, the Namibian experience points up a reality which is sometimes neglected and which, in my view, applies to the whole African continent. This is that there is not one democracy for white people and another democracy for black people.

The slogan ‘one man, one vote’, I am convinced, does not only apply to apartheid countries. Having said this, it is natural that there might be nuances - the evolution may vary according to the political, economic and cultural circumstances of each country.

· Do you think that the political success of independence is sufficient to guarantee success at the economic level, and in development?

- Clearly not. The former is a necessary condition but it is not sufficient in itself. I am fully aware of the current problems which the Government and people of Namibia have to tackle. As you know, I myself come from a country - Spain - which moved peacefully to democracy after a dictatorship of 30 years and I know well that that inevitably results in greatly increased expectations, particularly among those who have long struggled for political change.

In the final analysis, responsibility for development rests with the Namibian people. Having said that, the Commission fully supports the course chosen by the Government with its emphasis on autonomy and national sovereignty. We are ready to assist the process, whether at a bilateral level or in the framework of SADCC and I hope that the Lomonvention will be a valuable instrument in helping to meet the aspirations of this young yet wise nation.

· There is, however, one field of EEC/ Namibia relations which? is not covered by Lom fishing agreements. Nevertheless, this is an important sector for the country.

- For Namibia as well as a good number of other developing countries fishing is, in fact, one of the main sources of revenue. Namibia’s coastal waters, although rich in resources, were subject to very serious overfishing in the period prior to independence. Therefore, it was important for Namibia to establish its 200 mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) without delay and to evaluate the situation of its marine resources as of independence. It is obvious that Namibia, like all other sovereign states, is completely at liberty to establish its own fishing and resource conservation policies.

On the other hand, we should not forget that the negotiation of fishing agreements between the Community and developing countries is something which is completely independent of the Lomonvention. The possibility of such an agreement was not even looked at during the negotiations for the accession of Namibia to LomV which I oversaw personally.

That said, after the signature of the Convention, Namibia and the Community agreed that it was an opportune moment to begin negotiating a fishing agreement. The Commission, which has exclusive competence in matters related to fishing, therefore initiated negotiations for what we hoped would be a multi-annual agreement.

· It would seem, however, that these negotiations are going through a sticky patch?

- The Namibian Government fixed the total allowable catch for 1991 at 60000 tonnes. That’s a lower amount than has been fished in the past but Namibia, logically, wants to allow its stocks to recover. That is quite normal and we accept it without reservation. However, when we began the negotiations this year, we discovered that the Namibian Government wanted to reserve 85 % of this 60 000 tonnes for certain shipowners, notably Spanish but also from other Member States, who have been fishing in Namibian waters, on the basis of individual licences. The EEC/ Namibia fishing agreement would thus relate to a proportion of the remaining 15%; in other words to a fraction of 9000 tonnes of fish annually. This quantity would still have to be divided proportionally among several Member States who have already made applications (France, Portugal, Spain, Germany, the Netherlands).

In addition to this problem of quantity, there is equally, a very serious problem of illegal fishing. As you know, several fishing boats from one Member State - Spain - have been arrested in Namibian waters while fishing illegally. It has happened several times and it is intolerable. On this subject, my position is exactly the same as that of the Namibian Prime Minister, Mr Geingob who recently declared that an agreement was impossible so long as Community vessels continued to plunder the waters of this country. I would go even further. Namibia has the right to bring to justice and to impose penalties on all illegal fishing activities, in accordance with the legal provisions which are in force.

The only authority with the capacity to adopt measures which can be applied to discourage illegal fishing onœ and for all, is the Community Member State concerned. But in the absence of such measures, I decided, after a great deal of thought, that the Commission must indicate clearly and unambiguously, its respect for the legitimate rights of Namibia, by seeking to induce the country in question to adopt the necessary measures.

It was for two reasons - the need to clarify the position regarding the illegal fishing and the obviously insufficient percentage of catch which is being offered to the Community in 1991 and 1992 - that I decided temporarily to suspend the negotiations on the fishing agreement. I explained this to the Fisheries Council of Ministers on 18 April and they, of course, supported my action.

· If the Commission’s reasons for the suspension are so clear, how do explain the negative reaction from certain quarters in Namibia?

- I must admit that that reaction surprised me. I thought that my decision would be appreciated for what it is - a gesture of solidarity and of support for the legitimate rights of the Namibian people.

I have recently written a letter to President Nujoma, explaining to him in detail the position of the Commission, because I remain convinced that the negative reactions you refer to are ill-founded.

But in the midst of these events, we must not be allowed to forget the excellent relations which the Community has always had with Namibia. I can assure you that the Commission will press on with its efforts to achieve a fishing agreement which is balanced, and which reflects both the mutual interests of the two sides and the necessity of ensuring proper conservation and management of Namibia’s fish resources. If all sides share this interest, we will get there. Otherwise, EC/Namibia cooperation can continue to develop normally in other fields, and particularly in the context of the Lomonvention.

An interview with Dr Ben Amathila, Minister for Trade and Industry: added value equals greater prosperity

Earlier this year, Windhoek played host to two important conferences. The annual consultative conference of SADCC, which took place in the Namibian capital at the end of January, brought together more than 600 official representatives from SADCC Member States, cooperating partners and international organisations. This was immediately followed by an ‘Investors Conference’ which exceeded all expectations, attracting upwards of a thousand participants. The latter event was masterminded by Dr Ben Amathila, Namibia’s Minister for Trade and Industry. Despite a very busy schedule, Dr Amathila found time during the week to fit in an interview with ‘The Courier’ in which he explained the Government’s priorities for developing the Namibian economy.

· Minister, it has been said that Namibia exports what it produces and imports what it needs. In the light of this what do you think are the priorities for Namibia in the field of trade policy?

- Your statement obviously characterises our current position. If you take the figures of what Namibia actually produces, you see that it is basically primary products, most of which are not processed locally. This is something which the Government aims to change - it is our intention to try and add value to our primary products, creating more jobs in the process, before we export them. Namibia is essentially a mineral-producing country and these minerals go either to South Africa or to countries overseas. We buy back the finished products from the very same countries and in the process we lose out on job creation for our own people. Unemployment in Namibia is estimated to be about 40%, so the policy of the Government is for value-added production which will create more wealth and more employment in Namibia.

· It is clear that Namibia relies on relatively few sectors - uranium, diamonds, minerals etc - to provide the bulk of its exports. What measures are you considering to diversify export-oriented production?

- Namibia is a country with a very small population and money circulation is limited. However, we see great potential for Namibia as a manufacturing economy and an exporting country. We know the history of most of the developing countries who depended solely on monoculture, and especially on the mineral sector. Their experience has not been very good. What we are trying to say is that whilst the mineral sector of our country is still very strong, we should utilise it to diversify to other sectors, especially manufacturing. Up to now, manufacturing has contributed about 5% of our GDP. That is very low indeed and we realise that there is scope for this to expand and to earn the country a lot of money.

Visitors who come here might look at the small population - the internal market of Namibia - and conclude that there is no point in investing heavily in this particular country. What we are trying to say is that as a sovereign, independent state, we now have access to a number of countries and markets. We are a member of the SADCC group, are within the Preferential Trade Area and have a trading relationship with the European Community through LomV. These arrangements put us into a position where we can obviously reach those markets with our finished goods, provided we make quality goods, which can be done. We know countries with considerably fewer resources than Namibia which have become manufacturers and producers of high quality goods and which dominate certain overseas markets. Namibia, with its infrastructure, its raw materials and an entrepreneurial population, can develop the manufacturing sector in order to yield a greater contribution to the country’s GDP. I see Namibia becoming more of an export nation.

· To what extent does South Africa’s continuing occupation of Walvis Bay affect Namibia’s trade and how do you see the issue being resolved?

- From a political point of view, we believe, in accordance with the view of the UN Security Council, that South Africa should not be in Walvis Bay. Their occupation is obviously illegal as well as being economically untenable. This is a matter that Namibia and South Africa will have to address very soon and our Foreign Minister has been given the task of taking the matter up with South Africa so that we can try to solve it amicably between the two countries. You know that South Africa does not need Walvis Bay and their clinging on to it is simply an attempt to coerce the young state of Namibia. But we believe South Africa will realise that addressing the apartheid problem will not, alone, end its isolation, if they persist in holding on to Walvis Bay. We also believe that within the context of Resolution 432 of the UN Security Council, which is the basis of the Namibian Government’s approach, it may be possible for the two countries to solve the problem without actually reaching international arbitration or the International Court of Justice. Walvis Bay is not only crucial to the economy of Namibia but also to the trade and economic links between Namibia and countries in the neighbourhood.

· On balance do you think that Namibia’s inclusion in the Southern African Customs Union benefits or harms Namibia’s trading position?

- Well there are a number of both positive and negative aspects. Being a young nation, obviously most of the arrangements were in place before we achieved independence. What we are trying to do is to identify those provisions in the Southern African Customs Union that tend to be negative to the strategy that Namibia is following at the moment. We intend to take this up not only with South Africa but with other members of SACU. It is possible that within the context of the Union, we will be able to address those issues and to make other members aware of the problems that we are encountering. If we find that the Union is not in our interest, obviously we reserve the option to get out of it.

· There is much talk of the dilemma you seem to be facing between your Broadly liberal economic policy designed to attract foreign investment and to maintain confidence, and the immediate expectations of many of your own supporters for a fairer distribution of the country’s wealth. Do you think you can reconcile the two?

- Well I don’t really like to see this in terms of a contradiction or conflict. It is true that the Government deliberately opted, after independence, for a policy of national reconciliation in order to prepare the majority of the Namibian people. National reconciliation means that everyone will have to make a sacrifice. This is the price that the country has to pay and we hope that our supporters and also those who are not necessarily our supporters, come to realise that their well-being depends largely on what we do to meet the high expectations of those who have nothing. Peace and stability hinges on those who do not actually own anything, whose expectations are justified and who expect the Government to do something very positive to alleviate the social pressure on them. As I mentioned earlier, we are talking of an unemployment rate of about 40% and that is pretty high. The beautiful constitution that we have could easily be eroded by the reaction of the 40% who are unemployed. The peace and tranquillity that we presentily have in the country could be disrupted if we fail to address this question.

What we are trying to do is to bring in investment in order to create wealth for the country. We are seeking to create jobs and we hope that it will be a partnership which will be very beneficial to both the investors and the country as such. I am very hopeful that on the political side, our supporters will understand the difficult situation the Government has taken over and that it may take some time to create the necessary jobs and wealth for everyone. They will also realise that the Government is earnestly trying to find solutions to these problems.

However, the solution will not be provided solely by investors, many of whom may wish to invest in capital intensive projects. On the other hand, the former apartheid system has caused such serious damage that creating jobs for the sake of creating jobs will not necessarily solve the problems. It is the intention of the Government, therefore, to develop the informal sector where most of those who are illiterate, and most seriously affected by the apartheid system will have better access to solving their own problems - through self-employment or by doing business at a level where they can participate. We believe strongly that Namibia has the potential in the long term to find its own development but we admit that in the short term, we need capital inflows from outside in order to address our particular problems of unemployment, poor health conditions, and poor housing.

· Following on from this point, how important do you think development assistance from overseas will be in helping Namibia? What role do you see in particular for the European Community?

- The European Community has been a partner to Namibia during the struggle for independence. It financed projects aimed at improving education for Namibians, notably through the United Nations Institute for Namibia which was based in Lusaka and that was a significant contribution. The EC also contributed to various programmes - food programmes and so on - to alleviate the plight of refugees under SWAPO care before independence. We are conscious of the fact that before independence, the European Community carried out and supported programmes here in Namibia, and that some of these programmes are continuing - long before the benefits of LomV actually materialise.

So we see, through various instruments, the very great role that the EC will play not only of the direct sort, such as food aid and programmes meant to alleviate the plight of the weak but also to help the weak help themselves through encouraging self-reliance. We believe that this is an area which the Government, in partnership with the European Community, will have to look at seriously. The syndrome of dependency which has been left by the South Africans where there is a tendency for people to expect the Government to do everything for them has to be broken, and we are looking for participation from the EC to help people help themselves, rather than to make them more dependent on the Government.

· The business conference taking place in Windhoek this week appears to have been a considerable success. What concrete benefits do you anticipate as a result of this event?

- What we have tried, in essence, to do is to inform would-be investors about the conditions prevailing in Namibia - all aspects which might be of interest to the business community, the business activities we already have and the fact that we have peace and stability. We have a very good constitution which has been heralded the world over, we have the appropriate environment and we have the necessary Foreign Investment Act which sets out the rights and obligations of investors in the country. In other words, we are trying to exchange information to make investors more aware of what is available. We feel that the quality of the information exchanged so far has been very good. Of course, not everyone who came here was an investor, but the sheer number of participants - more than 1000 - will certainly bring benefits to the country. We hope that from their own experience, those who came will be able to tell the world at large what Namibia is and what the Government’s intention is. I see them as potential ambassadors of Namibia to the rest of the world. We also think that having digested the information from the conference, many of the participants will come back while others will be attracted to Namibia to test the water and see if it is worth actually putting their money here.

I also see it as a prelude to expanding the tourist industry for which Namibia has very great potential. We think that as Namibia becomes more known internationally, more tourists will come and that will be very good for the economy.

One particularly significant thing which I think has resulted from the conference is the fact that those who have lived in this country for years and who have looked only to South Africa for protection from the so-called hostile world have learnt a very good lesson. It is their first experience since independence, of being part of the community of nations. Additionally, in a free economy, they will have to learn to compete with the rest of the world - competition is what a free market economy is all about. This means they will have to brace themselves to do things better, and Namibia as a whole will be the beneficiary. For these reasons, the conference, in my view, has been a very great success.

Interview by S.H.

Agriculture and fisheries - managing the transition

by Paul GOODISON

Namibia may be a dry country, but with its small population and huge land area, there is considerable scope for growth in the agriculture sector. High grade meat is already exported in considerable quantity and Namibia is well known in the quality clothing industry for its karakul pelts. Expanding agriculture, and in particular adding value to primary production through more local processing, offers a route to greater prosperity, particularly for the poorest sections of Namibian society who are mainly rural dwellers. In the three short articles which follow, Paul Goodison outlines the problems facing some of the country’s most important ‘agricultural’ sectors and puts forward suggestions for overcoming them.

The final article in this ‘series ‘ rooks at the related area of fishing, which has the potential to become Namibia’s single most important economic activity. Overfishing prior to independence reached such a scale that stocks were depleted almost to the point of extinction, hut as Mr Goodison explains, the new Namibian Government took immediate and firm action to prevent further degradation. Now it is looking to the future, in seeking to strike a balance between conservation and fisheries development.

In each of the areas discussed, the author looks at the EC-Namibia relationship and from the standpoint of a ‘neutral’ observer, he suggests ways in which this might be developed.

In financial terms, the single most important agricultural product in Namibia is undoubtedly beef. As with most other primary sectors in the country, production is mainly for export, and it is not, therefore, surprising that the beef quota (for exports to the European Community) figured prominently in the negotiations leading to Namibia’s accession to the Lomonvention. The quota of 10 500 tonnes which was agreed, is already beginning to have an impact on the Namibian beef sector in a number of ways.

In the first instance, it has provided greater economic security for the local beef industry. At independence, 84% of Namibian commercial beef production was exported to South Africa. As a result of being granted access to the EC market under the beef protocol, a proportion of this is now being sent instead to Europe, reducing Namibia’s dependence on the single and highly cyclical market of its southern neighbour.

In addition, the opening of exports to Europe has greatly stimulated the level of domestic meat processing in Namibia. 54% of exports to South Africa were ‘on the hoof’ whereas supplies for Europe have to be slaughtered and processed before shipment. Supplying some 10 500 tonnes of frozen de-boned beef to the EC market in 1991 will require the domestic slaughtering and processing of a further 70 000 cattle, with a value added for the domestic economy of some R20 million, and the creation of up to 1000 new formal sector jobs.

The beef quota thus provides not only greater economic security for the industry in Namibia, but also an important stimulus to the local economy in terms of job creation and higher added value.

Beyond this, the operation of the levy rebate under the Lomeef protocol brings substantial additional revenue to Namibia in comparison with what could be earned in alternative markets, notably South Africa. In current market conditions, with South African beef prices at a cyclical peak, this ‘additionality’ is estimated at R3 million per 1000 tonnes. Under the probable market conditions in the coming years, the additionality could be as much as R6 million per 1000 tonnes.

Under previous Lomonventions, the additional benefit derived from the levy rebate has accrued to the ACP governments in the form of tax revenue. With LomV, however, the decision as to who benefits from the levy rebate will be made by the ACP government. In Namibia, the sole beef exporter is currently the principal beneficiary of the levy rebate although it is, in consultation with the Government, formulating programmes to spread the benefit to previously neglected communal areas. In time, however, the Government may decide to play a more active role in spreading the financial benefit of the levy rebate through the imposition of an export levy on beef destined for the EC market. If this were to be done, the extra revenue generated could be deployed in support of broader rural development, outwith the commercial operations currently envisaged by the sole exporter.

In the medium term, this may prove a more appropriate solution for many black, former communal area farmers operating south of the veterinary control fence. This fence, which is known as the ‘red line’, divides the northern, former communal areas, where lung sickness and foot and mouth disease are prevalent, from those areas previously reserved for white commercial farmers where the diseases have been eradicated

Under the previous administration, beef marketing was structured against these farmers’ interests and in favour of the established commercial farmers. Many communal area farmers south of the red line are aware that the EC beef quota will improve financial returns to beef producers and they are presently enquiring of the Government how they can benefit from this. As in other areas, the need to overcome the legacy of unequal opportunities established under South Africa’s occupation, poses a major challenge of which the Namibian Government is keenly aware.

North of the red line, the problems of former communal area cattle farmers are somewhat different. For beef produced in this area, the principal market is roadside butcheries. Some of the northern farmers would like to see measures taken to improve marketing opportunities, so that they can benefit from levels of remuneration similar to those enjoyed by the commercial producers in the south. There have been calls for the progressive removal of the veterinary control fence, as animal disease control programmes gain ground. Other farmers, who are profitably engaged in the cattle trade with southern Angola are fearful that this will lead to a complete ban on such cross-border commerce, with a new veterinary control fence being established on the border. Another problem in the north is that, given population pressures, existing cattle farming practices are leading to severe environmental degradation. If action is not taken in the short term to halt this process, irreparable damage could be done to the fragile ecology of northern Namibia.

It is this type of wider concern which suggests that greater governmental involvement is required in determining the utilisation of the additional financial benefits accruing to Namibia under the Lomeef protocol.

Beyond the immediate benefits arising from the granting of a realistic beef quota to Namibia, it could also, in the medium term, greatly stimulate the tanning and leather working industries. A number of tanneries and leather working enterprises already exist in the country. However, they are often working with outdated technology, and the Lomonvention could have an important role to play in stimulating joint ventures, thus allowing Namibia to build up, on the foundation of its own natural resources (in this case cattle), a thriving new industry.

Karakul

During the negotiations for the accession of Namibia to the Lomonvention, the coverage of the existing STABEX commodities was extended to include the export of karakul skins. These are obtained from karakul sheep and are used for the manufacture of high fashion garments. The karakul sheep is ideally suited to the harsh environmental conditions which prevail in large parts of southern Namibia.

At present, price instability on the international markets is severely disrupting the karakul industry. Despite the fact that prices in Rand terms rose during the 1980s, Namibia’s export earnings from karakul in 1990 are only half the level of those achieved in 1980. Pelt production has dropped to 21% of the figure of ten years previously.

With a view to stabilising karakul farm incomes and restructuring the industry, the Namibian Government is presently seeking STABEX support for losses sustained in 1990. Assuming support can be secured, the Government is then looking to establish a comprehensive programme involving the expansion and, where appropriate, reintroduction of karakul farming into communal areas.

It is hoped that stimulating managed expansion now will place Namibia in a good position to capitalise on impending improvements in international fur prices arising from de-stocking in the mink industry.

In addition, through improving and expanding karakul production in previously neglected, communal farming areas, it is hoped that the programme will substantially increase farm incomes. This is particularly the case for the drier southern and north western regions. Improving the standard of pelt production in the communal areas to the average prevailing in the commercial sector would effectively double the income of communal area karakul farmers.

The expertise for implementing such a programme already exists in the former white administration’s agricultural extension service. The problem is to establish an appropriate organisational framework to deliver extension services to communal area farmers in a way which engenders confidence and stimulates the necessary improvements. In the past, such schemes have been implemented in a manner which benefited less efficient commercial karakul farmers. These farmers sold their poorer stock at inflated prices to local government-run karakul improvement schemes which were intended to help communal area farmers.

This kind of problem - overcoming the legacy of the past - poses a major headache for the Namibian authorities. Often, those most in need of support and assistance are beyond the reach of-established organisational structures. Reforming these structures to meet the new policy agenda is now a major task.

Nevertheless, if the balance of karakul production can be shifted to communal area farmers, and the quality of production in these areas can be improved, a firm foundation will have been laid for the industry in Namibia.

As regards adding value through processing, a basis already exists in the form of a factory which produces processed skins and karakul garments. However, considerable scope exists for increasing the value added element. If only 10% of existing pelt production could be processed to the Nappa (tanned) stage, and a further 10% worked up into finished garments, the value of export earnings from karakul could be doubled under current market conditions. This would also generate more than 100 new jobs on the pelt processing side alone. Such a course of development is quite within the capacity of established Namibian enterprises. What is required to realise the potential is joint ventures with Europe-based companies to facilitate marketing. Here again, the Lomonvention could perform a useful function.

Expansion of karakul farming in communal areas would also create many new employment opportunities through the establishment of small-scale karakul woof ‘weaveries’. There are already eight such weaveries in operation, employing between 200 and 250 people, as well as an unknown number of cottage weaveries.

There remains, however, considerable scope for expansion in this area, particularly if local weaveries could be linked to a national and international marketing network.

There is potential for every farmer with a herd of 150 karakul sheep to produce sufficient wool to employ two full-time weavers, with a further two employed in supporting activities related to wool-preparation prior to weaving. If sufficient training could be given to ensure a high standard of design (a weaving school already exists in Karibib), and providing markets can be found, an income of some R10 000 could be generated for the weaver and assistant.

It is clear that the reintroduction of karakul farming in communal areas could initially generate hundreds of jobs in the weaving industry with perhaps thousands more being created in the longer term. For such a programme to succeed, however, considerable technical and managerial inputs will be required. Initial seed money is also needed to establish pilot schemes. Opportunities to help meet these requirements exist under the Lomonvention (notably STABEX) and European non-governmental development agencies should be able to play a part.

Given the enormous problems of employment creation facing Namibia, particularly in the rural areas, an integrated programme for the development of the karakul industry is more than merely desirable - it is, in fact, essential.

Game

With independence, and the removal of the commercial constraints which existed during the South African occupation, the Namibian game meat industry looked forward to a period of expansion. In 1989, the last year before independence, Namibia exported more than R5.5 million of fresh game meat to the European Community market, principally the Federal Republic of Germany. Links with the neighbouring Botswanan industry were being developed and there was the prospect of higher returns for the higher quality Namibian meat which was finally being marketed under its own name. On the basis of fresh meat exports, plans were even being laid for the development of processed game meat exports to the EC. It was expected that this further processing would create additional employment and quadruple export earnings from the game sector within a few years.

By mid-July 1990, the position appeared very different. Traditionally, Namibian game meat exporters had enjoyed reasonable relations with their South African counterparts who had largely taken the lead in marketing game products internationally. With Namibian independence, however, the South African suppliers sought exclusive marketing deals with those European importers whom the Namibian industry had previously supplied. Overnight, Namibian exports were cut off from their traditional European markets. This sudden change of circumstances for the worse is illustrative of the difficulties which a range of Namibian products may face with independence.

The second principal factor adversely affecting the Namibian game industry was the economic changes taking place in Eastern Europe. The breakdown of state marketing arrangements in the former communist bloc has led to a free-for-all in the export of Eastern European game to the EC market. This is seriously depressing EC prices for game meat. Normally, this would not have been expected to have such a direct impact on the Namibian trade - Namibian game is significantly different from the European varieties and has better quality and taste. However, the inability of Namibian exporters to develop brand name marketing of their products has ensured that they have fallen victim to the more general vagaries of the game market. A lack of international marketing experience has left the Namibian industry ill-placed to respond to the adverse marketing conditions with which it is confronted. Thus a sector, which only very recently appeared highly promising, is now threatened with devastation. As with karakul, assistance is needed in this sector to develop international marketing expertise and to restore export growth potential.


Exports

Fisheries

The legacy of over-exploitation

Namibia has, potentially, one of the richest fishing grounds in the world. This is due to the particular climatic conditions at the coast, where the cold but nutrient-rich Benguela current flows. In the past, the fishing industry has been a major force in the economy.

In 1968, fish processing based on inshore fishing accounted for 15% of exports and 10% of GDP. However, as local scientists predicted, this level of exploitation of the sea proved unsustainable. Unfortunately, local efforts to limit the catch, in the face of predictions of impending collapse, commonly gave way to the short term commercial interests of South African fishing companies. This occurred to such an extent that by 1978, the pilchard stock, which had been the mainstay of the inshore fish-processing industry, was almost exhausted, the biomass amounting to less than 2% of the figure in 1968.

The collapse of the inshore fishing industry led to considerable job losses in Walvis Bay, where employment in the fishing industry is now only 20% of what it was in its heyday.

The experience of over-exploitation of the inshore fish stocks was in large part replicated offshore. When the international rules establishing an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of 200 miles for coastal states, came into being under the UN Conference on the Law of the Sea, the Namibian fishing grounds became, in effect, one of the few remaining free fishing areas in the world. This curious legal situation stemmed from the fact that the international community did not recognise South African jurisdiction over Namibia, and South Africa, in any case, did not have an effective regulatory authority to prevent resource depletion.

The International Commission, South-East Atlantic Fisheries (ICSEAF) did attempt to control access to Namibian waters in the interests of long-term sustainability, but pressures from commercial operators invariably led to the setting of quotas at the highest level of the scientific recommendations put forward. The situation was exacerbated by the fact that ICSEAF had no independent means of monitoring compliance with the quotas. As a result, they were honoured more often in the breach than the observance. The result has been a progressive decline in fish stocks, with the offshore fleet taking only 20% of its 1972 peak. In Namibia, this sad state of affairs was seen to have arisen in large part because of the lack of national control over Namibia’s fishing grounds.

The current situation

With independence, the new Namibian Government resolved to take firm action to protect this potentially very valuable national resource. By the year of independence, the commercially high value hake stock was only at 20% of its 1969 biomass and no less than 82% of the hake being caught was less than one year old. This indicated a situation of crisis proportions, in which immediate drastic action was required to avert a terminal collapse. Accordingly, the Namibian Government requested all foreign fleets to cease their fishing activities off the Namibian coast pending the results of a comprehensive stock assessment, the approval of new fishing regulations and the declaration of a national fisheries policy.

Whilst this request was initially respected, within a few months of independence, Namibia’s 200 mile EEZ was regularly being violated by vessels engaged in illegal fishing activities. The extent of these activities was dramatically illustrated by the arrest of five Spanish boats for illegal fishing, in November 1990. The seizure of these vessels was widely regarded as being only the tip of the iceberg - they had been part of a ‘fleet’ of more than 30 such boats.

As its action would suggest, the, Namibian Government has accorded top priority to conservation and stock recovery in the formulation of its national fisheries policy. In the longer term, it aims to facilitate the development of the Namibian fishing industry, maximising the local processing of fish caught in Namibian waters and developing an indigenous offshore fishing fleet and associated fisheries support services.

The initial moratorium on foreign fishing activities in the EEZ has gradually been replaced by a policy granting restricted access to foreign vessels for specified activities. Licences for horse mackerel have already been granted, since local concessionaires were unable to take up the full 1990 quota of 200 000 tonnes.

For European Community fishermen, the main interest is not in horse mackerel, but in hake. This stock is still severely depleted, however, and the 1991 total allowable catch (TAC) established by the Namibian Government is only 60000 t. In the allocation of hake fishing licences - as with horse mackerel - priority is being given to locally based concessionaires. The Namibian authorities estimate that these (some of which are joint ventures with EC fishing concerns) will be able to take X5% of the hake quota, with the surplus being opened up, on a licensed and carefully monitored basis, to foreign fleets.

In the short term, this leaves little scope for legal fishing activities by EC vessels in Namibia’s EEZ. The level of access granted to foreign boats in 1991, for the all-important hake fishing, represents less than 2% of what was sought by the various EC fishing fleets It is also barely 4.5% of the amount which the Fisheries Directorate-General of the European Commission initially felt would be a realistic compromise level for EC fleet access in 1991. The Commission, however, has shown a growing awareness of the Namibian Government’s conservation policy and the need for stock recovery, in its approach to negotiating a fisheries agreement.

Prospects for EC-Namibia cooperation

Namibia can learn a lot from the EC’s experience of fisheries conservation in the North Sea where, despite the introduction of various technical measures designed to promote fisheries conservation, a number of the major fish stocks have continued to decline. In addition, the Commission’s recent talk of the need to find ‘new association formulas’ in the fisheries sector, leading to die conclusion of second generation’ fisheries agree-holds out possibilities for the negotiation of mutually beneficial fisheries cooperation agreements, which take into account the long term developmental needs of the fisheries sector in ACP states. Given the state of Namibian fish stocks, however, any current fisheries agreement would need to take a longterm perspective.

From a Namibian point of view such an agreement would need to contribute materially and significantly to the wider development goals set for the fisheries industry. It would need to specify, in particular, measures to be taken to facilitate:

- the effective implementation of conservation and stock recovery measures;
- the development of domestic processing of fish caught in Namibian waters;
- training of Namibian fishermen;
- technical and scientific cooperation;
- the further development of an indigenous Namibian inshore fishing fleet;
- the establishment of an indigenous Namibian offshore fishing fleet;
- the establishment of fishing industry service facilities in Namibian ports.

From an EC perspective, any such agreement would ideally need to guarantee EC vessels a mutually agreed level of long-term fisheries access.

The present problem is that, given the TAC for hake, there is little scope for foreign fishing boats. This is likely to continue having serious repercussions for EC fishermen, particularly at the Spanish port of Vigo, where many vessels are laid up, because of both the Namibian moratorium and internal EC fisheries conservation measures.

The solution for the longer term is a framework fisheries agreement’ in which the EC agrees to help facilitate the attainment of Namibia’s own policy objectives, as outlined above, in return for access for EC fishing boats to a specific percentage of the unutilised fishing opportunities up to the ceiling of the TAC. Community vessels would thus have, over say a 10-year period, a guaranteed level of access. They, in turn, would have a direct interest in the successful implementation of conservation measures since, to the extent that these were successful, the TAC could be gradually increased and hence, the total volume of fish available for exploitation by EC fishermen would rise.

Such an agreement could fit in well with Namibia’s short term needs (support in conservation) and longer term goals (expansion and development of the Namibian fishing industry), as well as giving concrete form to the Commission’s quest for ‘new association formulas’. If such a long term perspective is not taken, however, there would appear to be little scope for EC-Namibia fisheries cooperation in the immediate future.

P.G.

Mining - the economic foundation

In common with most developing states, Namibia’s economy is based mainly on the production and exploitation of primary products. In financial terms, mining is by far the most important sector, generating no less than 29% of the country’s total GDP. From the point of view of employment, it has less of an impact (5-6% of the total), but it nevertheless provides a significant number of jobs in areas where few alternatives exist.

On the face of it, Namibia is fortunate in having such a wealth of mineral resources. The picture, however, is not universally favourable and predictions about the future of the sector - which is vitally important for the future of Namibia as a whole - tend to be conflicting.

Although many different minerals have been discovered in Namibia, the strength of mining rests on three products - uranium, diamonds and copper. Since 1989, the Navachab Gold Mine has also made a useful contribution to overall earnings but the commercial exploitation of other minerals is currently on a much smaller scale.

The three main mining companies - each of which is dominant in a single product - are part of large multinational groups with mining interests worldwide. Prior to independence, their exploitation of Namibia’s mineral resources on behalf of foreign interests was a source of great resentment. Indeed, SWAPO was initially committed to bringing the mining industry under public ownership with a view to spreading the benefit of Namibia’s mineral wealth more equitably among its people. However, the threat of nationalisation has receded with the Namibian Government’s acceptance of the prevailing economic philosophy in favour of free enterprise. It is moving instead towards a regulatory framework which it hopes will lead to expansion in the sector, increasing its own tax revenues in the process. There now appears to be a general consensus that this is the best way of maximising the economic benefit to the country.

Problems

The main mining enterprises are currently facing both common problems and difficulties which are specific to their particular product. The former include depressed world commodity prices, which have been a feature of the past decade, and the effects of the economic sanctions which were imposed on the former colonial regime. In addition, investment and operating costs are inflated by the need to build and run large scale mining operations in a largely hostile natural environment. Transport is also expensive given the size of the country and its distance from the principal markets in the northern hemisphere.

It is a truism that non-renewable resources do not last forever but where a country is heavily dependent on extractive industries, this creates particular development problems. Mining towns, often created from scratch, have experienced boom conditions only to discover when the resource is exhausted that their communities have lost their raison d’e. With far-sighted planning, it may be possible to invest today’s wealth in diversifying for tomorrow and this is clearly one of the current objectives of the Namibian administration.

The largest shadow appears to loom over the copper industry. Extraction is carried out by the Tsumeb Corporation at a town of the same name in the north of Namibia but it is generally accepted that this is a business which is well past maturity. Given the mine’s location in an already depressed area of the country, the urgency of broadening economic activity in the region is recognised.

For diamonds and uranium, the longer term prospects are more promising although some difficulties are expected over the next few years. Diamonds have been exploited in Namibia for a very long time and many traditional onshore mining areas have been exhausted. However, the giant Consolidated Diamond Mines (CDM) which dominates the industry in the country does have two new mines at Auchas and Elizabeth Bay as well as a major stake in the gold mine at Navachab. For diamonds, the future focus is likely to be offshore rather than land-based with encouraging indications coming from test mining in Namibian waters.

It is worth mentioning that one of the consequences of diamond mining in the Namib desert was the establishment of the Sperrgebiet (the forbidden zone). This is a huge area in the south west of Namibia which can only be entered with a permit.

Uranium extraction is carried out by the Rossing company at its huge open-cast mine in the Namib desert. Production is currently being cut back due to a depressed world price, the prospect of cheap ore floodong the world market from Eastern Europe and a continuing public mistrust of nuclear power in the aftermath of the Chernobyl disaster, which has influenced energy policymaking in the developed world. Rossing, however, is convinced that future energy demand, combined with a growing environmental backlash against the burning of fossil fuels, mean that the future of the industry is likely to be secure.

Diversification the key

Namibia is also pinning its hopes on diversification in the mining sector. Recent prospecting has revealed that the country has significant untapped reserves of lead, zinc and silver. More copper and gold deposits have also been discovered while there may be potential for mining other rare metals. Rossing, who are acutely aware that all their eggs are currently in one basket (uranium) recently embarked on a pilot project for mining graphite at Otjiwarongo. Beyond the traditional minerals, there may be scope for producing high quality marble and granite while significant reserves of gas have been discovered offshore. The prospect of finding offshore oil is also thought to be ‘reasonably good’.

The discovery of a range of hitherto unexploited mineral resources in Namibia has prompted the Government to predict a buoyant future for the sector. This is not a view which is shared by all, however, and there are those who believe that mining in Namibia has ‘seen its peak years’ (Financial Times, March 22 1990). Time will tell whether the latest finds are suitable for commercial exploitation on a large scale and which view is, therefore, correct. One thing which remains certain is that the fortunes of the Namibian economy will, for the foreseeable future continue to be closely linked to those of its major mining industries.

S.H.

Wealth in the desert

The Rossing uranium mine in the heart of the Namib desert is a place which invites superlatives. For those of us who are used to existence on a more human scale, the first surprise, as the company plane from Windhoek starts its descent, is the sheer immensity of the hole which has been dug in the ground. Other attempts by man to leave his mark on the desert - the tarred road, the single track railway or the water-pumping stations - pale into insignificance beside the prodigious effort of shifting millions of tonnes of largely worthless rock, in order to extract precious grammes of energy-giving uranium.

The Rossing uranium deposit was discovered in the 1920s but it was not until 40 years later that a commercial evaluation led to the decision to begin mining. When full-scale production was reached in 1978, Rossing was the largest uranium mine in the world, with up to I million tonnes of rock being removed from the open pit every week.

Looking down into the pit, which like some amphitheatre of the gods, descends layer by layer to its flat surfaced bottom, one sees vehicles moving slowly but purposefully, laden with ore or returning empty from the dumping areas. There is nothing remarkable about them from a distance - it is only close up that one appreciates their dimensions indeed, the dumper trucks are so large, and their drivers are perched so high above the ground, that all conventional vehicles at the mine must be fitted with a device like an extended aeriel with a red if ‘football’ on the end. This is to let the drivers know they are there!

The operation at Rossing has a number of stages. Once a dumper truck has been filled with rock, it is driven to a testing point in the pit itself where the concentration of uranium ore is measured. If the concentration is insufficient, the load is driven to a waste dump. Otherwise, it is taken for crushing, which is carried out in four stages at the plant attached to the mine. Various chemicals are used to extract the uranium from the ore and final processing converts the yellow cake which is produced into uranium oxide. This is the product which leaves the mine in steel drums for the overseas markets.

Safety

Rossing places considerable emphasis on safety and in addition to various ‘ protective measures, it performs regular i medical tests on its workers to ensure that they are not exposed to hazardous levels of radiation. In the mine itself, where exposure to radiation is at a very low level, the main concern is the dust raised by the mining operations. This is suppressed by vehicles which continuously spray the surface with water.

Most of the employees at the mine live in the nearby town of Arandis which was built and is still largely owned by the company. The housing is of a relatively high standard with families living in small bungalow-style units equipped with all basic utilities. One feature which may seem surprising in a town which is founded upon nuclear power generation is the solar panels which are fitted to all dwellings. This environmentally friendly way of supplying hot water to the inhabitants of Arandis is, however, easy to understand when one experiences the unremitting sun of the Namib desert. Single quarter units with communal lounges are available for workers without families. Rossing has also invested considerable resources in community services in Arandis, including education, skills training, small business ventures and sports and social facilities. Recently, there have been cutbacks in some areas which have provoked controversy but the company argues that this is essential given the current depressed market for its product.

There can be little doubt that Rossing is seen as a good employer by most of those who work for it. By local standards, remuneration is high and there is a very low turnover of staff (although this was not always the case). According to Sean James who is the assistant general manager at the mine, the company receives each month, some 1100 applications for only six to twelve vacancies.

For Namibia, the Rossing mine is extremely important. Before independence, it was seen by many as a ‘villain’ of the apartheid system which evaded sanctions to exploit the country’s resources.

Indeed, many of the company’s community-based investments were probably aimed at countering these criticisms. Nowadays, there is tacit relief that the sanctions efforts were not wholly successful since had the mine closed, it would almost certainly not have reopened and this would clearly have had serious consequences for the wider economy, given that the Rossing mine is responsible for a significant percentage of Namibia’s overall GDP.

The current situation in the market for uranium is giving some cause for concern. In particular, the opening up of Eastern Europe has led to the threat that uranium stockpiles from that source will become available at very low prices, as the countries involved close down nuclear installations and seek to obtain the hard currency which they so desperately need for investment in new areas. In addition, although Rossing survived the sanctions, it did not do so unscathed. The market in nuclear fuels is based to a large extent on long term contracts, and the effects of losing certain customers prior to independence will continue to be felt for some time. Despite these problems, Rossing is looking forward in the longer term to an upturn in the market. On present levels of extraction, the Rossing mine is expected to last until at least 2018. By then, the size of the hole in the Namib desert will be more than five square kilometres.

S.H.

Education in Namibia - bridging the divide by Dr Ian G. MACFARLANE

There are those who would argue that a good education system lies at the heart of every successful economy, and that the great oak prosperity will never grow unless the acorn of knowledge has been properly nurtured. The importance of education has certainly been understood in Namibia - barely a year after independence, major reforms are being implemented as the Government looks for ways of extending educational opportunities, previously only available to a small minority, to all of its people. In this article, Dr Macfarlane describes what education used to he like in Namibia and what is being done to adapt the system, in the demoratic, post-apartheid era.

The education system inherited by the new Namibian Government was characterised by administrative divisions and major inequalities. Before independence, education was divided according to ethnic group, with racially segregated schools. For the most part, the administrative divisions coincided with fairly neat geographical boundaries but this was not always the case. Where families from different ethnic groups lived in close proximity, for example in the Windhoek suburb of Katutura, schooling was the responsibility of yet another authority, referred to as ‘National Education’. This encompassed a collection of schools which did not fit tidily into any of the other categories such as those supported by individual churches or by the Council of Churches of Namibia (CCN) as well as those in the black city suburbs In all, these were eleven educational authorities, with the quality of service provided varying greatly from one ethnic group to another.

Where it was not actually forbidden, interaction between the different authorities was at least actively discouraged. A subject adviser within one administration would not expect to have any professional interaction, either with his counterparts or with teachers in other authorities. Subject specialists were assigned to a particular education authority and were typically based in Windhoek. Thus, for example, in order to support any given subject in the three schools in Luderitz, a small coastal town 800 km from the capital, three subject advisers would make the round trip in in separate cars, each to visit only one school!

Funding for education prior to independence was also a very uneven process. With income tax revenue largely being channelled back to the ethnics from which it was raised, major inequalities were inevitable. The education authority for whites was able, not surprisingly, to provide education facilities which compared favourably with those of developed countries. A good example of this was the Windhoek College of Education, the teacher training college built for whites. This is designed on a grand scale and, in addition to spacious accommodation, has outstanding sports facilities including an Olympic-size swimming pool and a stadium. When one considers that before independence, there was never more than 10% occupancy of this college, reputedly because of a lack of qualified students, and when this is compared with the dearth of equivalent facilities for other education authorities’ the real scale of the inequality becomes apparent.

Eleven become one

Following independence, the new Government has moved swiftly to implement its education policies, beginning with the organisational structure. The Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport has been created to replace the divisive system of separate authorities. Clearly, this represents a major upheaval, but the reorganisation is proceeding swiftly and with remarkably few hiccoughs.

For several months, the new Ministry consisted of the Minister, his Deputy and only a few officials and secretaries. This was a period of intriguing paradox - the Ministry was grossly understaffed but at the same time, the total education establishment was several times larger than required, by virtue of there being separate education authorities. The spirit of reconciliation enshrined in the Constitution ensures that no-one should lose his job simply because of the process of independence. In keeping with this policy, those previously employed in the authorities have steadily been incorporated into the new Ministry. The Government’s commitment to reconciliation, which has ensured job security, has been a major pillar in the changeover to independence. It has helped considerably to defuse what might otherwise have been a very tense period.

New policies for a new country

Prior to independence, a lot of thought was given to future education policy, both by Namibians in exile and by forward-looking educationalists in the country. Several international conferences and seminars, which have taken place over the last few years, have helped to prepare the ground.

The Government has selected English as the national language, and therefore as the medium of instruction in Government schools (except for the early years of primary), despite some concern about lack of fluency amongst both teachers and pupils. Interestingly, such concerns seem to come more from well-meaning outside observers rather than from those directly affected by the change. Although Afrikaans and German are more widely spoken, neither has appealed to the majority of the population as a national language. English is heavily supported as being the most suitable choice, except within very obvious interest groups.

The curriculum most widely used in Namibia prior to independence was that of the Republic of South Africa Cape Education Authority. This syllabus is rather academically oriented, with much emphasis on subject content and knowledge of facts, and proportionately less emphasis on demonstrating a proper understanding of the underlying concepts. It has been popular among the better-off sections of Namibian society, providing a qualification which is recognised by universities and further education colleges in South Africa. In less prosperous parts of the country, where fewer resources combine with greater language problems, it has not proved successful in providing a meaningful or useful education for the majority of pupils.

Subjects such as mathematics and science have been all but abandoned in large areas of the country. This has helped to perpetuate a vicious circle in which inadequate teaching leads to inadequate preparation of school leavers for further studies which in turn leads to poorly qualified teachers. The uneven nature of education in pre-independence Namibia is illustrated by the fact that in 1988, when only 4% of the 29 000 pupils in their final secondary year studied maths, more than half of these were white, despite the fact that white people make up only 8% of the overall population. The figures for science were broadly comparable.

With the new Namibian Government committed to the concept of equality, it was natural that the education system should be targeted for change. The education authorities have now given way to a single ministry which will be the central planning authority for six new regional centres of educational administration.

Next on the agenda was the new curriculum. The recently created International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) was selected to replace the Cape syllabus which was considered to be unsuitable for the new Namibia.

In October 1990, the Education Minister, Nahas Angula, announced that a new set of syllabuses would be introduced for pupils entering the first year of Junior Secondary in January 1991. This approach was designed to avoid disruption for pupils already embarked on the Cape curriculum while at the same time, satisfying the need for immediate action.

However, the time available between the Minister’s decision and the introduction of the first year curriculum was extremely limited. Thanks to work undertaken by the Namibian community in exile, the foundation of a new curriculum had already been laid but the Ministry still had a major task to produce a scheme which was more pupil centred and practically oriented, which would fit into the IGCSE scheme which senior pupils will eventually follow and which was more suited to the needs of the wider Namibian community.

Subject teams were charged with writing up the new syllabuses during November and December and the exercise was conducted with impressive skill. There must be few countries capable of handling such a major task so quickly. On the other hand, the degree to which the new syllabuses meet the brief set by the Minister varies from subject to subject, and some retain much of the character of the Cape syllabus. Given the timescale involved, this is hardly unexpected, nor is it necessarily too serious a matter. As the Permanent Secretary for Education, Mr Ankama has pointed out, syllabus development is a never-ending process which must constantly take account of recent developments, experiences and other relevant inputs.

Higher education

The Windhoek Academy, founded in 1980, is Namibia’s main institution of higher learning. It forms an umbrella over three constituent colleges - the University of Namibia, the Technicon (Technical College) and the Centre for out of School Training (COST). In addition, there are four teacher training colleges in the country. In the past, the Academy was viewed by most observers very much as part of the previous political system. There was, for example, a marked resistance in the early days to any suggestion for changing the medium of instruction from Afrikaans to English despite the increasing desire of black Namibians to be educated in the latter language. The institution caters mainly for black Namibians, with white school leavers looking mostly towards South Africa for higher education.

More recently, the Academy has made various efforts to improve its image and it has presented itself as dynamic, forward-looking and committed to playing its part in the new Namibia. These efforts have been treated with suspicion by some people, but most observers are willing to accept that the efforts are genuine.

The United Nations Institute for Namibia (UNIN), which was based in Zambia until independence, was thought by some to be the natural foundation on which the nation should build a national university. UNIN, however, was recently disbanded and is now removed from contention as the foundation for the new university.

A senior civil servant recently explained the situation in terms of having to build on ‘what is already there’, and pointed out that ‘whet is already there is the Academy’. Despite this, the future of higher education in the country is still very much under discussion and in the meantime, the Academy has been instructed to continue with current work while being expressly forbidden to undertake new programmes. A Commission on Higher Education which includes prominent Namibians as well as eminent experts from other countries, is presently examining the issue and it is expected to present its findings in mid-1991.

Education needs

The changes proposed in the education system are immense and they will need considerable resources, both financial and human. If any impact is to be made on the vicious circle mentioned previously, it will be necessary to break into it at several different points, and this will require several coordinated projects. The following issues need, in particular, to be tackled:

- Pre-service teacher training programmes must be revised to ensure they will produce adequate numbers of well qualified teachers

- Mathematics and science, both of which have been badly neglected in all sectors of society other than in the white community, must be strengthened

- With a teaching force which is largely under-qualified for the work assigned to it, there is a great need for in-service training

- The national University should develop bridging courses to under-subscribed programmes which have importance for development (particularly mathematics and science). The aim would be to catch young scholars with aptitude who may not have the formal qualifications to gain entry to higher level courses

- There is a tremendous need for English language training

- Above all, Namibia needs to identify clearly its own problems and develop its own solutions in the education field. Help and assistance from outside should be seen only in this context.

In these days of mass communication, Namibia has a wonderful chance to consider the successes and failures of others in developing a system which meets its own needs. Whilst there are many problems and barriers to be overcome, it is also seen to be a time of great opportunity, and it is this which has brought a mood of excitement to education in Africa’s youngest state.

I.G.M.

Profile


Namibia

GEOGRAPHY

Area:

824 000 km², consisting mainly of desert, semi-desert and dry savanna.

Population:

1,5 million (approx)

Capital:

Windhoek (120 000)



ECONOMY




GDP (1989)

R 4326.2 m ($1.7 ten)

Per capita GDP (1988)

$1273 Balance of payments



Exports (1989-merchandise)

R 2671.6 m ($1.02 ten)



including


- diamonds

R 814m

- other minerals (mainly


uranium and copper)

R 1213 m

- cattle

R 155 m



Imports (1989-merchandise)

R 2339.6 m ($0.89 ten)


(includes manufactured products processed foods, mechanical equipment etc)




Trade balance

R 332.0 m

Overall balance of payments


(including services and other ‘invisibles’)

R 98.7 m



Budget (1990-91)




Government income

R2366m



Government expenditure

R 2576 m

Deficit

R 210 m

Government debt (March 1989) (external and domestic)

R 893.6 m

SOCIAL INDICATORS

In the fields of education and health, independent Namibia has a legacy of inequalities bequeathed by the previous apartheid system. In the former ‘white areas’, high quality facilities for schooling and health care exist. Former ‘coloured’ areas also have reasonable provision but elsewhere, and particularly in the north of the country, health and education facilities are inadequate and there is a shortage of trained personnel. Equality before the law has been introduced but equality in practice will take time to achieve.

As regards transport, Namibia has a first-class network of arterial roads but many secondary routes in the north are in a poor condition. The total network is 41 715 km (including 4382 km tarred and 28089 km gravel). There are also 2341 route km of railway.

Unemployment, which is a particularly serious problem in the black communities, is estimated to be between 30% and 40%. The Namibian economy has a substantial informal sector.

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.

Planning for development - a man with a mission

Dr Zedekia Ngavirue is the Director of Namibia’s new National Planning Commission. As such, he is responsible for coordinating his country’s development strategy, putting into practice the policies which ate required both to increase prosperity and to bridge the gap between rich and poor. When he spoke to the Courier, Dr Ngavirue, who has a private sector background, was at pains to emphasise the modern role of his Commission. Economic planning in Namibia, he stressed, ‘does not mean the old idea of a centrally planned society’. The government must obviously plan its own capital expenditure and provide a framework in which the private sector can operate but as the Director pointed out ‘the private sector itself will remain the real engine of growth’. He spoke of the Government creating an enabling environment, providing opportunities for businesses to do the things that they can do best.

Dr Ngavirue also explained the structure of the body which he heads. The National Planning Commission will draw its membership from representatives of different economic and other interests within Namibia and it will be serviced by a secretariat consisting of three divisions. One of these will deal with the planning of economic development while another will manage the funding from both internal and external sources. The third division will be responsible for information including: the gathering of statistical economic information which is currently lacking and the conduct of censuses. The idea is for this unit to develop into a fully-fledged central statistical office.

The structure chosen reflects the Government’s ‘bottom-up’ philosophy in the field of development. As the Director pointed out, ‘it should not simply be a matter of having some ‘expert’ or technocrat saying how things should be’. Feedback from the people was important, he argued, since this would lead to formulation of policies which reflected the views of different parts of Namibian society.

The Director also spoke about what he saw as the priority areas for development in Namibia. Noting that it was not a question of ‘all-round’ underdevelopment - the country in fact has a well developed infrastructure - he said that the focus should be on adjusting the economic imbalances which had resuited from the previous “system. ‘This is very important for us, because it is at the very core of our stability’. He cited the areas of education and health, where imbalances needed to be tackled.

Dr Zedekia saw an important role for the European Community, in participating in Namibia’s development, through the Lomonvention. He was particularly complimentary about the concrete help which had already been provided by the Community and looked forward to a continuing useful partnership. He was anxious, however, to stress the ‘trade’ component of the Lomrrangement. There was always a tendency, he noted, to concentrate on the donor/recipient relationship. Echoing other prominent Namibians on the same subject, Dr Ngavirue insisted that Namibia only wanted assistance for a transitional period. The Government clearly favours self-reliance and looks forward to the day when commerce is the principal feature of its relationship with the EC.