WINDHOEK - Cabinet has directed that Namibia explores the possibility of sourcing funds from the BRICS New Development Bank to finance the development of intraregional infrastructure projects promoted by the Ministry of Works and Transport through the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Presidential Infrastructure Champions Initiative.
The initiative includes the Grootfontein-Rundu-Katima Mulilo Railway Line; the Baynes Hydro-Power Project; the Trans-Kalahari Railway Line Development Plan; and the Trans-Orange River Highway and Railway.
These are some of the several vital transportation infrastructure projects in the country that are underway.
The Grootfontein-Rundu-Katima Mulilo railway line is one such project that seeks to improve trade via Walvis Bay port to countries such as Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
The Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Stanley Simataa, yesterday announced that Cabinet had directed that Namibia continues to participate in BRICS-Africa and explores the possibility of sourcing funds from the BRICS New Development Bank to finance the development of intraregional infrastructure projects.
President Hage Geingob who attended and addressed the BRICS summit in Johannesburg last month noted Africa is relying on BRICS countries to transform the continent’s economies based on innovation and technology.
Namibia and some African states formed part of the BRICS outreach dialogue programme.
He said the BRICS summit offers Africa the opportunity to contribute to the decision-making process, and reap the benefits from the economic cooperation among BRICS nations.
The BRICS summit brought together Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa and endorsed a proposal to allow non-members to gain access to the $50 billion (approximately N$750 billion) from the BRICS New Development Bank for infrastructure and development loans of which Namibia too wants to tap. This comes barely a year after the New Development Bank opened its first regional office, the Africa Regional Centre, in Johannesburg to identify and prepare projects to strengthen the bank’s footprint throughout Africa.
According to East African news, for African countries, an alternative source of financing from the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and other development partners, would be a welcome opportunity in their pursuit of infrastructure development. China is now the continent’s biggest trading and development partner, with India following closely.
Africa’s share of foreign aid from Brazil, India and China combined is more than that from the US.
International analysts view that the BRICS bank will potentially rival the World Bank, where Africa holds only three seats on the 25-seat board.
The World Bank and IMF continue to be dominated by America and Europe.
Already, the new bank has signed contracts with Chinese development banks, including the China Development Bank and China Construction Bank to fund multibillion-dollar projects in Africa.
China has increased its loans for energy and infrastructure projects in Africa to $8.8 billion (approximately N$132 billion) in the past two years as it seeks to drive the continent’s infrastructure agenda.
The BRICS bank is also seeking private-sector involvement in pushing for infrastructure projects on the continent.
Outside of China, the European Union and the US, India is Africa’s fourth-largest trading partner.
India’s trade with the continent has increased fivefold in the past decade to reach $52 billion (N$780 billion) as of March last year.