Abuja – Namibian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Amb. Peingeondjabi Shipoh, said on Friday the joint Nigeria-Namibia refinery will offer employment opportunities to the teeming youth of both countries.
Shipoh said in Abuja that the refinery was an outcome of an agreement signed during President Goodluck Jonathan’s visit to Namibia in March.
The envoy said that the project which would be sited in Namibia would be private-sector driven.
“When President Goodluck Jonathan visited Namibia in March we intended signing 13 (agreements) but because of the short notice, we could only sign 11.
“There is an agreement to establish a joint refinery. Namibia has availed the land in the port of Walvis Bay and this agreement stipulates that the private sector champions the project.
“My duty is to consult the private sector in Namibia and Nigeria assisted by the Namibia-Nigeria Chamber of Commerce or the umbrella chamber of commerce industry of Nigeria and the Nigerian High Commissioner in Windhoek.
“How to access the private sector that may be interested in this project in Namibia. This has been on the table for over 20 years.
“Namibia has no refinery, it imports everything that we need as far as petroleum products are concerned. Therefore this project is very important to the livelihood of Namibians.
The high commissioner said that the project which would cost about US$10 billion would be given the necessary support by the two governments.
The envoy emphasised the need to ensure value addition by training the youth of both countries that would constitute the workforce.
He explained that the refinery would enhance the economies of both countries and their regions.
“It all depends how thick the pockets of the business people are. When it comes to refinery, it’s not a cheap project depending on the capacity of that refinery.
“We are talking about U.S. $7 billion to U.S. $10 billion.
“Since the Namibian government is keen to see this refinery taking off some instruments are also ready to assist such an investor.
“The most important thing for the Namibian government is, we would like to create jobs with this project; there is our solution in terms of alleviating poverty.
“The youth, they are graduating and they don’t have fixed jobs; this is the opportunity.
“We all know that a refinery of that magnitude needs skilled people.
“So, it is for us also to be ready to start training now so that if it is in two or three or four years the refinery is ready the corresponding work force should be ready.
“Whether they come from Nigeria or Namibia, the support of the government is guaranteed.”
Shipoh said that Namibia had discovered oil adding that “oil might not be far away”.
According to him, facilities and opportunities were available to investors under the agreement signed on oil and gas.
“Promising exploration zones are open for exploration by international companies,” he added.
He said other the agreements signed were in the areas of mineral exploration, agriculture, education and health.
The envoy said the agreements would facilitate the transfer of Nigerian professionals in the health and education sectors for a specific period to Namibia.
The envoy pointed out that the Joint Commission of Cooperation (JCC) shared by both countries would ensure the review and implementation of agreements between both countries.
He said the JCC is expected to meet in Namibia in June or July. (NAN)