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India, Namibia Ink Pact on Uranium Exploration, Mining

Namibia and India have signed two bilateral agreements in the fields of communications and peaceful use of nuclear energy during President Hifikepunye Pohamba’s three-day state visit to India recently.

Even as Australia reiterated its inability to sell uranium, India signed an agreement on civil nuclear cooperation with Namibia recently. “Among the agreements we signed today is the cooperation between us on uranium. I believe that we have the best uranium (in the world),” said President Pohamba after discussions with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The pact is an umbrella agreement that includes sale of uranium to India.

After signing of the agreement, he noted that there “are  many opportunities for investment available in Namibia in the uranium, diamond, agriculture, energy, transportation, railways, mining, ICT and SME sectors and resolved to encourage Indian investments in these areas”. Namibia’s Uranium resources are about 5.0 percent of the world’s known reserves. Pohamba said that he was completely satisfied with his talks with Singh.

The two countries signed the accord under the ‘Agreement on Cooperation in Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy’, in which they agreed to trade uranium and exchange expertise in designing of nuclear plants as well as the training of personnel. “India is committed to helping Namibia in all spheres of development,” Prime Minister Singh said after signing the bilateral agreements. President “Indians are interested in exploring for uranium. At present, technical staff from both parties are busy with issues of how implementation will be carried out,” the Minister of Mines and Energy, Erkki Nghimtina said.
Nghimtina accompanied President Pohamba to India.

Namibia is the fifth nation to sign a nuclear pact with India, joining countries like United States, Russia, France and Kazakhstan. The agreement allows the country to supply India with uranium for nuclear power purposes.

Nghimtina said Indians have the financial resources and expertise in the field of nuclear power and hence Namibia’s interest in the partnership.
“Namibia needs such expertise to explore its natural resources,” he added.

“We have decided to inject fresh dynamism in our cooperation in areas such as human resource development, capacity building, trade and economic exchanges, agriculture, transportation, defence, information technology, health, energy and mining,” the Prime Minister Singh said.

India has also offered Namibia a credit line of US$100 million over the next five years for various projects and material purchases, as well as establishing a faculty of mining and engineering, and information technologies at the University of Namibia at a cost of more than US$12 million. There are also grants and aid of about N$10 million for education and health over the next five years.

In addition, India has pledged to expand human resources development by doubling the number of experts to Namibia, as well as doubling the number of scholarships to management cadres.

The two countries also signed three MoUs related to exemption from visa requirements for diplomatic and official passport holders, geology and mineral resources and defence.