23 May 2013

Namibia: DRC Wants Nam Fishing Quotas

THE Government has turned down a request by the Democratic Republic of Congo to hold fishing quotas in Namibia.

The Namibian understands that the horse mackerel is popular in the DRC and Namibian fishing companies export large quantities of the fish to that country, prompting its government to request Namibia for fishing quotas.

Fisheries Minister Bernard Esau told The Namibian that no direct quota was given to a country, but to companies who export the fish to the DRC. He confirmed that talks took place, but ended at the idea stage.

“It was just an idea,” he said adding that the DRC government had inquired on the possibility of being issued with fishing quotas.

The Namibian reliably learnt that DRC President Joseph Kabila, requested for the fishing quotas from President Hifikepunye Pohamba at a SADC Summit in Luanda in 2011.

Pohamba reportedly said he saw no problem with giving the DRC fishing quotas and called Finance Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila and requested her to follow through with the request.

Kuugongelwa-Amadhila could not be reached for comment, while Presidential Affairs Minister Albert Kawana said he knew nothing about the issue.

Last year, Kabila and his government are said to have enquired again about the quotas.

Senior government sources said that Namibia's Ambassador in the DRC Ringo Abed was asked by the DRC government to follow up on the request, since Pohamba saw no problem with issuing the DRC with fishing quotas.

In return the DRC government is said to have offered Namibia an active role in the Inga hydroelectric power project, which is supposed to be the biggest hydroelectric plant in Africa.

The offer for Namibia to participate in the Inga projects will mean that the DRC government has back-tracked on its 2010 decision to push Namibia out of the project via the Western Power Corridor (Westcor) consortium consisting of Namibia, Angola, Botswana, South Africa and the DRC, which was supposed to start generating electricity by 2012. By 2015 it would have reached full capacity, generating 5 000 megawatts. Of this, 1 000 megawatts would have been shared by Namibia, Angola and Botswana.

The DRC ditched Westcor for BHP Billiton with Yengo Massampu, Chief Executive of the DRC's National Electricity Society at the time being quoted in media reports stating that “Each country needs to look at how it can develop itself.”

Comment could not be obtained from the DRC embassy in Namibia.

The Namibian government has in the past come under criticism from for supporting DRC by sending troops to fight for late DRC President Laurent Kabila, without consulting Parliament. The same time Namibia also loaned N$25 million to the DRC, which irked opposition parties and civil society.

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