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Friday, 21 May 2010 09:04

Russia Signs Agreements On Mineral Exploitation With Namibia

Russia Signs Agreements On Mineral Exploitation With NamibiaBy Kester Kenn Klomegah

MOSCOW, May 20, (Buziness Africa) - President Dmitry Medvedev and his Namibian counterpart Hifikepunye Pohamba held fruitful talks that would strengthen bilateral cooperation in the two countries.


Pohamba, who was in Moscow on an official visit in May, signed a memorandum on cooperation in exploration and development of Namibian uranium deposits.


The document stipulates opportunities for creating joint ventures in exploration, development and processing of uranium ore as well as uranium enrichment. The memorandum is effective for five years and may be automatically prolonged.


"Russia is returning on the African continent as its close partner after a break due to our internal difficulties," President Dmitry Medvedev said at the talks with Namibian President Hifikepynye Lucas Pohamba.


"We consider Namibia a very promising and friendly state. We are maintaining cooperation with Namibia for 20 years since it has proclaimed independence and established diplomatic relations with Russia," the Russian president stressed.


Pohamba said, "the newly created intergovernmental commission allowed both parties to achieve certain progress. The ministers told me considerable progress had been achieved in such areas as mining and milling, transport, trade, education, tourism and agriculture."


He thanked Medvedev for "sponsorship to every Namibian student from Russian higher education institutions."


"In the course of the negotiations of the head of two states examined the possibilities of expanding the Russian investment participation in the major projects in Namibian economy, including developing of the mineral resources, hydrocarbon raw material, development of electro-energetics, collaboration in the region's fishing industry, transport, tourism, in the humanitarian sphere," the Kremlin press service told reporters here after the official talks.


Prior to the official discussions and signing of the intergovernmental and interdepartmental agreements, Russia's Natural Resources Minister Yuri Trutnev told the media that Russia could invest billions of dollars into the Namibian economy including in hydro-energy projects and the development of the country’s uranium deposits.


Trutnev, who heads the Russian part of the bilateral intergovernmental commission, said Namibia needed more hydro power generators and also nuclear power stations it could buy aboard to run on domestically available uranium.


Russia plans to acquire shares in Namibian uranium deposits in 2010, head of the Russian State Atomic Energy corporation Sergei Kiriyenko said.


He said Russia is ready to invest some $1 billion in developing the deposits. According to him, the discussion deals precisely with the portions, but not about the actions of company- mediators. The large layer of natural gas is investigated.


"We proceed from the fact that this year we must move for the practical acquisition of portions in Namibian uranium deposits. We want to invest money precisely into exploitation," Kirienko said and further emphasized that Russians were interested precisely the reserves of uranium.


Russian state gas and oil giant Gazprom in cooperation with Namibia's Namcor company may head a consortium to develop a large gas field in Namibia. Besides that the Namibian government has proposed Gazprom to build an electric power plant in the country which will process the produced natural gas into electricity.


Though the project cost may exceed $1 billion, the management of Gazprom finds the costs reasonable. It is expected that half of the electricity produced by the plant will be exported to South Africa, and the Russian party expressed its readiness to construct two hydroelectric power stations in the southwestern African state.


Medvedev and Pokhamba also discussed international and regional problems, in particular, Africa will continue to exchange opinions on the existing vital problems, according the Kremlin sources.


In 2009, Medvedev's visit to Namibia symbolizes Russia's return to the African continent. And, obviously, now it is the right time for such visit since African countries no longer totally satisfied with partners in Europe, US and China, according some policy experts.


Traditionally, Russia had strong influence on the African continent. And now that amid the global financial crisis share prices of the leading African companies have dropped, Russian businessmen have a good chance to achieve some agreements.


Different financial experts predict African countries to play a crucial role in economic development of the third world countries. That is why Russia pays so much attention to cooperation with the African countries and Namibia in particular.


"It is intended to objectively examine questions of the guarantee of steady development of African countries, search for the ways of regulating the conflicts in the continent, which are been main obstacle on the way of achieving of stability and social and economic increase in African countries," the Kremlin source said.



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