India can help us strengthen defence, anti-terrorism: Namibian envoy


New Delhi: Assistance in building up a strong defense system, peace keeping and an efficient anti-terrorism arrangement are among the prime topics to be discussed between India and Namibia during the upcoming Indo-Africa Forum Summit here, the country’s envoy said.

Namibian High Commissioner to India, Pius Dunaiski, said that to boost the country’s defence system, they wanted India to train officers in the Namibian Army, Air Force and Navy on advanced techniques and facilities being used by the defence forces of other nations.

“India had played a important role in establishment of Namibian Air Force. In fact we had bought the first helicopters from India. It also helped in educating and training the Namibians officers from Ministry of Defence, but now we want the training to be further developed,” Dunaiski told IANS in an interview.

The fifty-eight-year old diplomat, who has also been Namibia’s envoy to Germany and Angola, said: “The anti-terrorism capabilities and the peace-keeping strategies are India’s asset, and Namibia can get a lot of help, and learn in both the sectors,” said the envoy of Namibia, which was part of South Africa till 1990.

Noting that while Namibia had no problem of terrorism or conflict, Dunaiski said, “It’s always good to have arrangements done as the world is a global village and one never knows what may strike when. India has excellent anti-terrorism system. Peace-keeping is also important because the world is well aware of the India’s role in peacekeeping in other countries.”

African nations, especially Nigeria, in past few years have witnessed the problem of terrorism caused by Islamic terror groups like Boko Haram and Islamic States of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Through a map released by the ISIL in late-2014, ISIL had mentioned its presence in countries they seek to imminently control, which included all Arab countries and nearly half of all Africa.

Stating that there were four important sectors, including agriculture, Dunaiski said that the Namibian delegation will have detailed talks with their Indian counterparts and would want the Indian companies to invest in all of them.

“Infrastructure development, agriculture, industrialisation, and most importantly, the mining sector will be the prime areas of discussion with the Indian counterparts. Agriculture especially because the technology the Indians use in agriculture is very adaptable for the Africans. Industrialisation will be another important area because we want development in that sector,” Dunaiski told IANS.

Calling mining the backbone of Namibian economy, Dunaiski said talks will be held over mining of diamonds, zinc and gold.

According to the envoy, Namibia has a target named “Vision 2030” and all major investment exchanges with countries were a part of it.

India and Namibia have earlier signed five agreements, including one on civil nuclear energy, which allows for supply of uranium from the African country.

A delegation of nearly 85 members, including President Hage Geingob, his wife, and cabinet ministers of finance, national planning, mining and agriculture will arrive in the national capital before the summit. Twenty Namibian industrialists are also likely to hold talks with their India counterparts as a part of the delegation.

Dunaiski also said that Namibia can be the leading contributor of uranium to India as it seeks to develop power through nuclear energy.

“As India has a huge population, they will need power in the future. Although nuclear energy is being tried, it’s only 4 per cent as of now. As stated by the Indian government, if they really want to make 20 per cent of the power from nuclear energy, then there is a good opportunity lying before us,” said the envoy, who was posted to India in 2013.

However, Dunaiski also said that there existed tough competition for India as Japan, China and others were also working hard to collaborate with the African nations to boost their economic ties.

“Africa is a continent rich in resources, but there is a huge competition ahead India. There is a separate forum of Japan and Africa, followed by China-Africa, and so on. The competition is so tough that Turkey, Hungary and several others, too, have specific forums for Africa to plan the exchange of investments. India, in fact, is a bit late,” he said.

The Republic of Namibia is a vast, sparsely populated country situated along the south Atlantic coast. In 2014, it bought 3,400 Indian-made electronic voting machines (EVMs) at a cost of Namibian $10 million.

( Rupesh Dutta,IANS)