Reception of a delegation from the Hauts-de-France led by Mrs Valérie Létard, Vice-President of the Senate and Regional Councillor

The Embassy of France in Namibia received a delegation from the Hauts-de-France from Saturday 8 February to Friday 14 February. Led by Mrs Valérie Létard, Vice-President of the Senate and Regional Councillor of the Hauts-de-France, the delegation brought together actors from the Regional Council, the academic world, culture and business. The embassy team also included people from the Regional Economic Service and French Agency of Development, from South Africa and from headquarters.

The double cap of Mrs Valérie Létard

During her stay in Namibia, Mrs Valérie Létard represented two institutions:

  • As Vice-President of the Senate, Valérie Létard represented France, the Senate and the President of the Upper House, Mr. Gérard Larcher.
  • As a Regional Councillor, Valérie Létard represented the local authorities, in particular the Hauts-de-France region and its President, Mr Xavier Bertrand.

The delegation of the Hauts-de-France region represented by institutional, economic, academic and cultural players

The Hauts de France region and its catchment area of 6 million inhabitants is located at a crossroads of Northern Europe, close to Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, opposite the United Kingdom and in the centre of a catchment area of 80 million inhabitants. The international strategy of the Hauts-de-France is based on an integrated approach involving all the players involved in the region’s development.

In this sense, the Hauts-de-France delegation was made up of economic, academic and cultural players :

  • The transport and logistics sector was represented by Mr Stéphane Raison, CEO of the Grand Port of Dunkirk. The Grand Port of Dunkirk is the authority in charge of the third largest French port. The port extends over 7000 hectares and includes a 17km seafront that can accommodate the largest ships. Mr. François Lavallée, President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Hauts-de-France Littoral was also present.
  • The food industry was also represented by Mr Régis Wecxsteen, Director of the Wecxsteen Group, a potato producer and exporter.
  • Professor Augustin Mpanda was also a member of the delegation as Research Director of ESIEE in Amiens, a higher education institute already connected to Southern Africa by being part of the French South-African Institute of Technology, or F’SATI, which contributes to the development of knowledge and technology transfer in South Africa and which will soon become part of the Namibian University of Sciences and Technology (NUST).
  • Finally, Mr Philippe Langlet, conductor and founder of the overseas association Coups de vents, was able to meet various major players in the artistic and associative life of Windhoek.

Institutional Cooperation

The Hauts-de-France delegation led by Mrs Valérie Létard and in the presence of the French Ambassador to Namibia Claire Bodonyi attended high-level political meetings.
All political interlocutors underlined the excellent bilateral relations between Namibia and France. France’s support for Namibia in its struggle for independence or the visit of President Jacques Chirac in 1998 were recalled as events that have greatly contributed to the continuation of a strong and lasting Franco-Namibian friendship.

Meeting with the President of the National Assembly, Prof. Peter Katjavivi

Meeting with the President of the National Council, Hon. Bernard Sibalatani

Meeting at the Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation with an inter-ministerial delegation composed of :

  • Ms Christine //Hoebbes, Deputy Minister for International Relations and Cooperation
  • Ms. Anna Shiweda, Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry
  • Ms. Kornelia Shilunga,Deputy Minister of Mines and Energy
  • Mr Natangue Ithete, Deputy Minister of Finance
  • Ms Bernadette Maria Jagger, Deputy Minister for the Environment and Tourism
  • Ms. Sylvia Makgone, Deputy Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources

Mrs Valérie Létard and Mrs Christine Hoebbes spoke during a tête à tête in the presence of Ambassador Claire Bodonyi

Meeting at State House with the President of the Republic of Namibia, Dr. Hage Geingob

The President of the Republic of Namibia, Hage Geingob, the Prime Minister of Namibia, Mrs. Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila and Mrs. Valerie Létard

The entire delegation was received at State House

Business meetings within the framework of economic cooperation

The delegation visited the Omburu solar farm managed by the Franco-Namibian joint venture InnoSun/ InnoVent, originally from Hauts-de-France for the French part. As a reminder, on 7 February last, during the Second Energy Forum for Africa, the Hauts-de-France region committed itself to sustainable energy, in continuity with the action of its President, Xavier Bertrand, who placed energy for Africa at the heart of his priorities. Valérie Létard’s visit to the Omburu site highlighted the interest of France and Namibia in working together in the field of renewable energies while benefiting from each other’s innovations. This visit allowed the members of the delegation to see the opportunity that solar energy represents in Namibia in view of the specificities of the terrain of one of the countries that receives the most sun in the world. The expertise of the joint venture in the field of renewable energy has enabled it to multiply solar and wind farm projects in the country (Omburu, Luderitz) and more widely throughout Africa (Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, Kenya etc.).

Visit of Omburu’s solar farm

The delegation attended the official signing ceremony of a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding between NamPort, the Port of Dunkirk (GPMD) and the French Development Agency. Financed by AFD to the tune of N$10 million, i.e. 650 000 euros, this project should enable the Port of Dunkirk to contribute to the regional logistics chain, while NamPort will benefit from technical assistance on improving and optimizing flows as well as strengthening its internal skills. The GPMD will also put its expertise at the service of the implementation of a "green port strategy". For the GPMD’s Managing Director, Stéphane Raison, "the collaboration between the two ports has entered a phase of concretization thanks to the signing of this MoU". As a reminder, the port of Walvis Bay is Namibia’s only deep-water port and a major import and export hub, having become a regional trade hub due to its advantageous position on the Atlantic coast and its proximity to landlocked countries, notably Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe (connected by a dry port). Receiving about 3,000 ship calls each year and handling about 5 million tons of cargo, the port has strong competitive advantages in terms of efficiency, productivity, automation and interconnections with other regional transport corridors as well as competitive tariffs. This allows Walvis Bay to take advantage of congestion in South African ports and low productivity in East and Southern African ports (Tanzania, Mozambique, Angola).
The delegation had the opportunity to visit the port which has good port infrastructure (ranked among the best in Africa). Thanks to a recent investment of N$3 billion or nearly EUR 200 million, the port is preparing to double its capacity to 750,000 TEUs per year. The first phase of the programme included the construction of a new container terminal which was completed last August. The second phase will focus on the construction of a liquid fuel terminal.

Signature of a MoU between NamPort, the Port of Dunkerque and the AFD in Walvis Bay

Academic Cooperation

The delegation went to the University of Science and Technology (NUST) to discuss the university cooperation segment, an essential element of the integrated international strategy of the Hauts-de-France. Two higher education institutes are currently connected to Southern Africa: ESIEE in Amiens and ESIEE in Paris are members of the French South-african Institute of Technology (F’SATI) which contributes to knowledge development and technology transfer in South Africa. Professor Augustin Mpanda, member of the Hauts-de-France delegation and Research Director of ESIEE Amiens presented the project of integrating NUST into F’SATI on the university’s premises and in front of Vice-Chancellor Morné du Toit and the whole delegation.
This project is the result of the exchanges that have taken place since 2017 between Mrs. Smita Francis, Founder and Head of the Namibian Institute of Space Technology (NIST)1 , the French Embassy in Namibia, Prof. Augustin Mpanda of ESIEE Amiens and Prof. François Rocaries, Professor Emeritus of ESIEE Paris and Scientific Director of F’SATI. The association of NUST with F’SATI will initially allow, in the specific framework of the space sciences field, to strengthen the scientific and academic cooperation of the universities of the Southern African region by supporting young researchers who will be able to carry out mobilities in other universities/laboratories. This rapprochement also offers opportunities for new partnerships and synergies between South African universities, Tshwane University of Technology and Cape Peninsula University of Technology.

Presentation of the project for the integration of the University of Science and Technology (NUST) into F’SATI by Prof. Augustin Mpanda of ESIEE Amiens

The delegation visited the Sam Nujoma Campus of the University of Namibia (UNAM) and its Marine and Coastal Resources Research Centre (SANUMARC), located in Henties Bay on the Atlantic coast above Walvis Bay. On this occasion, the Vice Chancellor of UNAM was present as well as representatives of the Department of Aquatic Sciences and Fisheries (DFAS), headed by Dr. Hilkka O.N. Ndjaula. The delegation thus had the opportunity to discuss again the segment on university cooperation and studied the possible synergies between the Sam Nujoma campus and the Université du Littoral-Côte-d’Opale located in four cities, in Boulogne-sur-Mer, Calais, Saint-Omer and Dunkirk. During the visit to the campus, the members of the delegation were able to discover the desalination system available to SANUMARC and its facilities for promoting research and development activities in the field of marine and coastal resources.
The Hauts-de-France region noted the opportunity for reciprocal exchanges of expertise and know-how in this field. Namibia’s coasts benefit from a cold current, the Benguela, which is the source of the country’s rich fishing resources. The protection of this ecosystem and its biodiversity conditions the development and sustainability of the fisheries sector, which is the second most important sector in terms of exports (behind the mining sector) and the third in terms of contribution to GDP.

Visit of UNAM Sam Nujoma Campus in Henties Bay

Cultural cooperation

Mr Langlet, founder of the overseas association Coups de vents, which offers innovative programmes to bring a wide audience to a better understanding of contemporary musical aesthetics, was able to meet various major players in the artistic and associative life of Windhoek.
Mr. Langlet, who wishes to develop the "Instrumentarium" project, an artistic creation produced on the occasion of Dunkirk, Capital of Culture 2013, which brought together on stage one thousand students accompanied by a two hundred-piece brass band, would be based on the work of an artistic residency carried out in July 2019 by a group of four young engineers who graduated from the ISEN in Lille for a young underprivileged audience in Katutura, Windhoek’s main township.

Last updated on: 28 February 2020