- Namibia has become the 18th grant beneficiary of US Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), joining at least nine of its African peers. The five-year compact poverty reduction grant totaling US$ 304.5 million, will help the Southern African state strengthen access to and quality of education and training sector, increase productivity of farm enterprises in communal rural areas and promote growth in Namibia's tourism industry.
The signing has softened tempos in Namibia, following mid-July mixed messages from US Senate that third world countries could suffer a hard blow, at least for one year, when the fund is suspended and new signings would not be allowed for 2009 fiscal year.
Amongst African countries that could still be affected by the funding detour, are Malawi and Senegal, who are still developing their compact proposals.
For Namibia, the signing has come both as a challenge and a delightful chance to join MCC league of countries, according to Professor Peter Katjavivi, Director General of Namibian National Planning Commission (NPC).
"Namibia is a young democracy, this year 18 years of age. And today, Namibia will be the 18th country in the developing world to sign a Compact with the Millennium Challenge Corporation," Professor Katjavivi said.
He also added: "…MCC objective of reducing poverty through economic growth was worked into a manageable and sustainable program, closely linked to existing development efforts, which we believe will stand the test of implementation".
Mr Rodney Bent, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of MCC said the signing was a result of hard work and dedication between MCC and people of Namibia.
"The programme, focused on supporting education and training, demonstrates Namibia's will to improve the lives of its citizens and create a foundation for sustainable growth, economic opportunities and the success for it's own people," Mr. Bent added.
Compact will improve education sector's effectiveness through broader access to vocational training, upgrading of infrastructure and equipment in educational facilities, and acquisition of textbooks for grades five through twelve.
The compact will also enhance economic performance of agricultural sector by supporting construction of five veterinary centers and tagging of one million cattle in high volume, under-served livestock areas, introducing community-based rangeland management practices, and advancing business capacity of indigenous Namibian natural products industry.
Finally, the compact will further seek to increase incomes and create employment opportunities through strategic investments in Namibia's ecotourism sector, Etosha National Park and marketing of Namibia tourism.
Namibia's compact with the United States is MCC's 18th compact. Since its inception in 2004, MCC has signed compacts totaling over $6.2 billion with Madagascar, Cape Verde, Honduras, Nicaragua, Georgia, Armenia, Vanuatu, Benin, Ghana, Mali, El Salvador, Mozambique, Lesotho, Morocco, Mongolia, Tanzania, Burkina Faso and Namibia.
Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), a United States government corporation designed to work with developing countries, is based on the principle that aid is most effective when it reinforces good governance, economic freedom, and investments in people that promote economic growth and elimination of extreme poverty.
Recent US Senate appropriation committee's proposal to pause further MCC funding agreements had sent chilling and disturbing news across partners, most of them in Africa. However US government has made a further commitment to upkeep those already signed agreements, saying though development spending would keep at current funding levels even in the next year, it would however allow for some progress to be made with some of already existing partner.
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