Nam, France sign environment sustainability agreement
By Lahja Nashuuta
WINDHOEK – Namibia and France this week signed a financial co-operation agreement to fund green and ecofriendly businesses.
The agreement aims to finance projects geared towards the sustainable use of natural resources and energy in Namibia.
Namibian Minister of Environment and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta and French Ambassador to Namibia Jacqueline Bassa-Mazzoni signed the agreement on behalf of the two governments. It forms part of the Memorandum of Understanding signed by the two countries last year in Paris, during the official visit by President Hage Geingob, when he underscored the business and investment opportunities that exist in the environmental sector.
The agreement signed on Wednesday gave the green light for the implementation of the Sustainable Use of Natural Resources and Energy Financing (SUNREF) programme in Namibia by providing credit lines financed by the French Development Agency to the tune of R647 million.
The three year programme will see three local banks provide concessional lending for the promotion of projects at SME level in sustainable agriculture, sustainable tourism, renewable energy and energy efficiency in the country. These are First National Bank of Namibia, NedBank and Bank Windhoek.
Close to R215 million will be allocated per partner bank, which will target small and medium enterprises projects. There will also be Technical Assistance Facility (TAF) worth EUR1 million in the form of a grant, to be managed by the Environmental Investment Fund of Namibia, according to the agreement.
SUNREF programme will finance renewable energy, sustainable agriculture and tourism businesses.
Speaking at the ceremony, Minister Pohamba Shifeta said SUNREF Namibia project presents the financial resources needed for the country to fulfil its commitment to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change that Namibia ratified in 2016.
“The agreement will see Namibia making progress in clean energy transition, sustainable agriculture and sustainable tourism, all in the face of threats posed by our increased demands from the natural environment and exacerbated by climate change,” Shifeta said.
It will further provide a financial incentive for the country to aim for a sustainable natural environment as underpinned in the recently launched fifth National Development Plan (NDP5).
“We are committed towards enhancing resilience towards the impacts of climate change by promoting environmentally sounding investments and production systems in all land based economies. We acknowledge that the agriculture tourism and energy sectors present the fuel of our economy as they have a major impact on jobs, economic growth and competitiveness” Shifeta said.
He said due to economic and financial crisis, Namibia has been suffering from low levels of investment in these sectors which negatively impacted economic recovery and job creation.
“We however are witnessing a turnaround, particularly in the renewable sphere where opportunities for investment have increased over the last 3 years.
He said the successful role out of the SUNREF Namibia programme is important not only achieve the climate change objectives and increase the food security but equally to ensure that Namibian economy is living up to its potential in the wake of external shocks.