Former President Hifikepunye Pohamba, during then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s visit to Namibia in 2009 said, “The friendship between our two countries spans more than five decades. During the Namibian struggle for freedom and the fight against colonialism, the Soviet Union was one of the first countries to assist us in our noble mission. We have never forgotten and will never forget the importance of the assistance that we receive.”
Since the mid-1970s, the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) was the main supplier of arms to Swapo.
Soviet deliveries included small arms and ammunition, mortars, rocket launchers, SA-7 surface-to-air missiles, and some trucks and armoured personnel vehicles.
By October 1984, Swapo was using Soviet-made T34 and T54 tanks to defend its bases in Angola.
The equipment was passed to Swapo through Angola.
In addition, the Soviets have provided advanced military training to Swapo cadres in the USSR, and some Soviets, as well as Cuban and East German advisers, were apparently assigned to Swapo forces in Angola.
Russia was among the first countries to establish diplomatic relations with Namibia, after it gained independence. It also looked to establish and expand bilateral economic ties.
In 2006, the Namibia-Russia Intergovernmental Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation was officially opened in Windhoek.
The Russian delegation, led by then Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov, visited Namibia in March 2007.
Fradkov expressed his country’s preparedness for the joint development of uranium deposits and the building of a medium-sized nuclear power plant in Namibia, fed by local uranium deposits.
The delegation also expressed interest in entering into a joint venture with Namibia, for the development of the Baines hydropower station in Kunene region.
A bit later, the Russians proposed to build a plant for the production of mineral fertilisers, and promote cooperation in the transport sector.
Visit of Yury Trutnev
Since that time, nothing has changed. Russian authorities are still expecting a reply on their Namibian proposals until now.
For instance, the Russian Deputy Prime Minister, Yury Trutnev, who is also co-chairman of the Namibia-Russia Intergovernmental Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation, during his visit to Namibia on 23-16 May, had to revive the above-mentioned proposals.
In particular, he mentioned the exploration of uranium deposits as one of the main areas of cooperation, and to assist Namibia in solving its problem with a lack of electricity, by building a nuclear power plant. According to him, “The new Russian atomic technology is 100 percent safe. Namibia and Russia can cooperate in this field.”
Benefits for Namibia
Namibia currently imports about 60 percent of its electricity, to supplement its internal power requirements. Energy security is important to promote sustainable development, and achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
A recent comparison of several independent lifestyle studies show that greenhouse gas emissions of nuclear power plants are among the lowest of any electricity generation method.
Nuclear is comparable to wind, hydro-electricity and biomass.
Lifestyle emissions of natural gas generation are 15 times greater, and those of coal generation 30 times greater, than nuclear.
Participation of Namibia in the nuclear fuel cycle is currently limited to the uranium production cycle, with the final product being uranium oxide.
However, Namibia should recognise that further processing would add value of significant benefits to the country.
According to a submission that the Mines and Energy Ministry once made to Cabinet, beneficiated or enriched uranium, could be sold at US$3 000 a kilogramme, compared to roughly US$100 per kg for yellowcake, which is the only form of uranium produced in Namibia so far.
The cost of producing enriched uranium depends on the processing level and electricity cost, but a net profile margin of at least US$1 000 per kg can be expected (when selling it), according to the Cabinet document.
Why is the Namibian side uninterested in developing relations with the friendly country?
The question is: Why does the Namibian government not react on these proposals, which are obviously important and beneficial for Namibia? Moreover, what prevents the Namibian parliament from ratifying a Reciprocal Promotion and Protection of Investment Agreement (RPPA) with Russia, which was signed in 2009?
On the other hand, Namibia has ratified RPPAs with 12 other countries.
Did the government decide to quit relationship with its historical friend, for unknown persons?
Or it a case of hidden sabotage, because high-level officials don’t get kickbacks from Russians?
It’s said that old friends and old wine are the best.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015