Remarks by Chargé d’Affaires, a.i. John M. Kowalski at MCA Namibia Compact Closeout

It is with profound pleasure and honor that I join you for the Compact Closing ceremony this evening.

The achievements of the MCC-MCA Namibia Compact are ASTOUNDING.

As great as the achievements of the past five years are, they are only the beginning for a greater Namibia.

The United States offers funding through the Millennium Challenge Corporation to partner with nations intent on building infrastructure.

More than five years ago, the Namibian government sought support for its infrastructure improvement plans..  Namibia’s…

  • good governance,
  • strong, democratic systems, and
  • its government culture of investing in its own infrastructure to benefit Namibians…

were central to Namibia accessing the unique funding offered by the United States government.

The United States and Namibia entered into a Compact in 2009 in a donor-recipient relationship in which the U.S. pledged over N$3 billion in today’s dollars to help Namibia improve its economic infrastructure.

On September 16, 2014, the Compact ended with the many improvements illustrated by Madame Akwenye that now provide educational and economic opportunity for Namibians.

This endeavor required trust in each other’s commitment and ended in proven competitive systems with a solid record for managing infrastructure projects, and a strong understanding of each other’s goals, ideals and processes.

What started as a donor-recipient relationship, ended in a new, trusting partnership between nations with common goals, a partnership between equals committed to improving opportunity.

It is this new partnership, forged through five years of dedication, trust, and hard work, upon which we will base future relations.

The N$3 billion Compact was designed to reduce poverty and promote economic growth through improvements in Education, Tourism, and Agriculture sectors.

The millions of books, world class teaching and study facilities, laboratories, veterinarian offices, professional studies, and agricultural improvements would be meaningless if not for the Namibian people into whose capable hands these projects are now entrusted.

I’ve met only a few, but all have left lasting impressions.

I recall the Namibian veterinarian in Okakarara who so proudly stood when Honorable Minister Mutorwa called attention upon him.  He and his new State Veterinarian Office in Okakarara now serve the ranchers in that area who before had to travel up to 100km to take a sick animal for treatment.

I recall the students at the renovated COSDEC in Otjiwarongo and their committed director and instructors.  What I recall most were the classrooms full of students learning computer science, sewing, bricklaying, and the metal shop students proudly showing off the braais they designed and built for sale.  Soon, that COSDEC’s hospitality students will be selling their biscuits at a coffee bar they have planned, embarking on an entrepreneurial journey that will teach them life lessons in small business management.

I recall the astonishment in the eyes of the Oshakati Regional Study and Resource Center staff who saw that 8,000 library cards already had been issued in the four days before the Center opened officially.   I also recall the first hi-speed digital video conference between Helao Nefidi and Oshikati RSRC conference rooms and the confidence with which the Helao Nefidi IT manager answered Honorable Minister Namwandi’s questions about the system…a state-of-the-art conversation that will offer increased access to information to educators, business people, politicians, students and all members of the community seeking to expand their horizons.

I recall the glowing pride in the faces of the Helao Nefidi Regional Study and Resource Center employees as the printed library cards for some of their first clients, His Excellency President Hifikepunye Pohamba and Madame Pohamba.

I recall the pride and leadership in the Gam School Director as she showed us the science and computer laboratories now maintained and used by the 500 Gam School learners.

I recall the dynamic Director of the Tukurenu COSDEC in Rundu and her glowing pride as she showed Honorable Minister Angula her new COSDEC facility.  The people of Rundu are in caring hands with Ms. Clemency Kafuru.  She is already working with local businesses to shape her COSDEC’s programs to best meet the needs of the business community.

I recall feeling AT HOME in the respectable homes built in Ombika and feeling a sense of pride, as an American, when I saw the before and after homes for the good Etosha staff at Okaukuejo.  Mr. Boas Errkie, Etosha Park Director, you no longer have to warn those seeking their life-long dream of working in Etosha about needing to live in tents.  Word is spreading to those wanting to devote their ambitions to making Etosha an even greater world-class tourist destination that they will live in dignity in homes fit for families.

I recall being greeted by Augustus, beaming with pride, as he welcomed tourists to the most unique game-viewing facility on the continent at Olifantsrus along the newly opened Galton Gate route.  I wasn’t given special treatment either.  Augustus greeted EVERYONE coming to his Olifantsrus as he would welcome people into his own home.

I recall my own wonderment as I exited the spectacular Etosha Park through the new Galton Gate befitting the magnificence of western Etosha – now open to tourists.  I looked out upon the conservancy lands and envisioned how the area will build up in the coming years to support the growing stream of Namibian and foreign tourists.

Finally, I recall the commitment, care and pride in the faces of the residents of Epembe Constituency who now have 60,000 m3 of water for their cattle and smaller livestock at the Nghishongwa earthen dam.  I left that dam just as the rains started falling and was comforted that the dam will provide livestock clean water through drought lasting up to two years.

Each of these infrastructure developments are just places and things.  What makes them special are the people who are using them to benefit their communities…and by so doing, enriching themselves and making Namibia an even more vibrant country.

The Compact has ended, but with every end comes a new beginning.  And the people I have met in these facilities, and others using the books and projects managed by MCA-Namibia and funded by America…are all ensuring that the new beginnings they create will be exciting and enriching in ways unimaginable.

It has been…and will continue to be…a great honor to have been part of Namibia’s journey to economic prosperity.

Thank you.