Namibia is celebrating its 18th year of independence and, as coincidence would have it, MCC today signed its 18th compact with Namibia, a $304.5 million partnership for education, ecotourism, and agriculture.
This morning, I met with Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba to congratulate him and his government on the compact. The government is intent upon development of its poorest areas, as Namibia has the second highest disparity of household income in the world. The compact has three main projects.
The education project will focus on school textbooks, primary and secondary school infrastructure improvements, vocational training, and a sustainable system of scholarships for post-secondary school students. We estimate that about a million students will benefit over the years from this project.
The ecotourism project, largely in the poor northern part of the country, will focus on communal conservancies, protecting Namibia’s astonishingly beautiful natural resources, including wildlife for future generations. In addition, this project will attract more tourists to Namibia and improve the jewel of the country’s tourism industry, Etosha National Park.
The agriculture project is focused on livestock, as a substantial number of households graze cattle on communal lands in northern Namibia. The project will provide veterinary centers and training for farmers in rangeland management, improved livestock productivity, and land access. A small part of the project is focused on helping poor families harvest high-value indigenous natural products like devils claw, marula oil, Kalahari melon seed, hoodia, and ximenia.
The signing ceremony was held at the office of the Prime Minister, with the Right Honorable Prime Minister Nahas Angula presiding over the event. A number of ministers, including the Director General of the National Planning Commission (NPC), board members of the NPC, and a U.S. trade mission organized by the Corporate Council on Africa were among the dignitaries who attended the event. Tonight, our Namibian counterparts will host us at a celebration to mark the compacts signing at the base of the Auas Mountains, featuring a local choir and traditional dancers.