Bilateral relations

Diplomatic relations between France and Namibia date back to the country’s independence in 1990, but France expressed its clear political support for the emancipation of the Land of the Brave as early as 1981, notably by hosting in Paris a representative office of SWAPO, recognised by the UN as the legitimate representative of the Namibian people. Since its creation in 1977, France has been a member of the Western Contact Group committed to a successful transition to independence.

Since this founding event of Namibian Independence, relations between the two countries have developed in all areas - political, cultural, scientific, economic and development…

Regarding foreign policy priorities

Namibia and France share a commitment to multilateral cooperation, as embodied in the United Nations and, first and foremost, in its Charter. One of the subjects that mobilise both countries in the service of international peace and security is that of "Women, Peace and Security", which was the subject of a founding resolution in October 2000, when Namibia held the presidency of the Security Council. In terms of climate, in 2016 Namibia actively participated in COP 21, the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention against Climate Change. Not only did it sign the Paris Agreement, but it was an exemplary signatory, committing to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 89%, making it the most proactive country in Africa.

In the cultural area

The quality of the relationship between the two countries is embodied in the Franco-Namibian Cultural Centre (FNCC), founded in 1991 and relocated to new premises in 2000. Located in the heart of Windhoek, the FNCC is a meeting place for cultures, a place for exchange and openness, and a place where culture in Namibia, in all its diversity, and Francophonie, in all its dimensions, can flourish. It is a truly bi-national institution, operating under the joint supervision of France and Namibia, and with their support.

Regarding scientific cooperation

Archaeology, palaeontology and palaeoanthropology are key areas for Franco-Namibian collaboration, and there are long-standing links between the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle in Paris and institutions such as the National Heritage Council and the National Museum of Namibia. For over twenty years, several French research laboratories have been involved in the ambitious gamma-ray astronomy project that gave rise in 2002 to the H.E.S.S. (High Energy Stereoscopic System), five telescopes dedicated to observing the most energetic phenomena in the universe, taking advantage of the purity of the Namibian sky. The French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) is involved in a number of cooperation projects.

In the area of development

Regarding the multiple challenges facing Namibia, a stable democracy with a solid and diversified economy, France’s commitment takes two forms:

  • collective action, on the one hand, in close collaboration with the European Union and our partners within it, a major player in international investment in the field of development, including in Namibia, or within the framework of broader structures, such as the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, of which France is one of the founders and the second largest contributor;
  • bilateral action, on the other hand, through projects led by the Agence française de Développement - in key areas such as groundwater resources, energy efficiency, women’s entrepreneurship, affordable housing, public-private partnerships, the promotion of biodiversity, and others. All these projects are designed and carried out with Namibian partners from the public or banking sectors, and where appropriate with United Nations agencies present in Namibia, and in line with Namibia’s own sustainable economic development objectives.

In terms of economic relations

Our trade remains modest (between 100 and 200 million euros in total in recent years), but French companies are clearly choosing Namibia, given the country’s strengths in the region: political stability, geographical location, quality of infrastructure, rule of law, business climate, etc. Major French companies such as TotalEnergies, Orano, Veolia, CMA-CGM, Thales, Colas, Stellantis, Accor and Séché Environnement, as well as Franco-Namibian SMEs such as InnoSun (renewable energy) and Matiti Safaris (tourism), are contributing their expertise and know-how to Namibia’s economic dynamism and strengthening Franco-Namibian ties. Since 2014, the Namibian French Business Association (NFBA) has brought together these companies from the Franco-Namibian economic ecosystem, both large and small, and offers them a framework for discussion and collaboration, in close liaison with the French Embassy.

The French Embassy in Windhoek, supported by its non-resident regional attachés, in close coordination with the Franco-Namibian Cultural Centre, with the French Development Agency, and with the Franco-Namibian economic ecosystem, is working to deepen and enrich this solid partnership between France and Namibia, for the benefit of both nations.

Bilateral political relations between France and Namibia

France and Namibia have enjoyed a trusting relationship since the struggle for Namibia’s liberation. In the 1970s, France was particularly active on the issue of Namibian independence within the United Nations Security Council. In May 1981, France acknowledged Namibia’s unconditional right to independence and SWAPO, the recognised representative of the Namibian people at the United Nations, opened an office in Paris, headed by ambassador Tuliameni Kalomoh from 1981 to 1986.

Both countries are committed to democratic values and human rights, and maintain regular institutional relations. The three successive Namibian presidents, Sam Nujoma, founding president and father of the Namibian nation, then Hifikepunye Pohamba and Hage Geingob, have made successive official visits to France: President Nujoma was welcomed to France by François Mitterrand and Jacques Chirac, President Pohamba by Jacques Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy (2010) and President Geingob by François Hollande (2016). President Chirac himself visited Namibia in June 1998. President Hage Geingob made his last bilateral visit to France in November 2021, in addition to other visits to summits such as the One Ocean Summit in Brest in February 2022.

On 8 November 2021, President Geingob was welcomed to France in Lille, in Northern France, where his visit to the regional headquarters served to consolidate the diverse partnership between the Hauts-de-France region and Namibia - whether in terms of ports, agronomy, education or renewable energy. Regular exchanges of visits are helping to deepen this relationship.

Our parliaments also maintain close relations. Following the visit of a delegation from the French Senate to Windhoek in 2013, a delegation from the National Council, led by its then president Asser Kapere, was welcomed to France in October 2015. Mrs Valérie Létard, Vice-President of the Senate, was received in Parliament in February 2020.

Namibian ministers regularly visit France. For example, Hon. Tom Alweendo, Minister of Mines and Energy, was received in 2023 by Group TotalEnergies to discuss the prospects for oil exploration in Namibia. Environment ministers Ségolène Royal and Pohamba Shifeta met twice in 2015, once in Windhoek and once in Paris, to coordinate their joint efforts to combat global warming and desertification.

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