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The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group will provide technical and financial support to bolster Namibia’s efforts to grow its economy and weather the global economic crisis. Speaking on Wednesday, 17 June 2009, during a two-day official visit to the country at the invitation of Namibian President, Hifikepunye Pohamba, AfDB President, Donald Kaberuka, commended the government on the efficient manner with which it was handling the impact of the financial crisis.
“The capacity of the Namibian economy to react to the global effects has been extremely strong,” he said, adding that sound macro-economic fundamentals pursued by the Namibian government had, so far, shielded the economy from excessive damage.
President Kaberuka said that Namibia’s economy should be able to take off, but urged authorities to diversify the economic base.
“Commodity price boom and bust are there to stay, that is the nature of the minerals market…the big question is how to manage at each phase of the circle and I think you have done well on that front,” he added.
The visit enabled Mr. Kaberuka and his delegation to better understand the development challenges facing the country and how the government was addressing them. During the visit, Mr. Kaberuka and President Hifikepunye Pohamba also explored possibilities for mutual cooperation.
The AfDB team engaged the country’s private sector officials on the institution’s response to the financial crisis and the mechanisms it had put in place to enable its regional member countries mitigate the adverse effects of the global financial crisis on their economies. The AfDB has developed a new set of support instruments, including an emergency liquidity facility and a trade finance initiative of US$ 1.5 billion and US$1 billion, respectively.
The visit included a business symposium and a tour of the northern railway extension project site in the country’s Oshana region, some 80 km from the boarder with neighboring Angolan. The project, one of the institution’s outstanding investments in the country, aims at stimulating economic growth in the country’s northern region and promoting regional integration by improving trade links with Angola through the provision of additional transport infrastructure and the extension of the railway network by 248 km from Tsumeb to Ondangwa.
Since starting operations in the country in 1991, the AfDB’s cumulative commitments in the country stand at some US$ 217 million for eleven projects and four studies. Thirteen of the 15 operations have been completed while two are ongoing. The transport sector is the largest recipient of AfDB financing, with 51.6% of total commitments, followed by agriculture (34.2%), social (8.6%), power (4.5%).