Bilateral relations Switzerland–Namibia

Relations between Bern and Windhoek are good and likely to grow closer in the future. The Namibian independence process, in 1989–1990, was the first occasion on which an (unarmed) Swiss military formation participated in a United Nations peacekeeping operation.

Key aspects of diplomatic relations

High-level contacts have tended to be sparse. The Swiss ambassador residing in Pretoria has presented his credentials to the President of the Republic of Namibia. The Namibian ambassador to Brussels represents his country in Switzerland.

Bilateral treaties

Economic cooperation

Namibia is a member of the Southern African Customs Union, and benefits from the free trade agreement concluded by that organisation with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA).

Trade between the two countries is conducted, in part, through South Africa. According to Swiss customs statistics, imports into Switzerland originating in Namibia amounted to CHF 2.9 million in 2010, and consisted principally of agricultural products and raw materials. Exports amounted to CHF 6.2 million, for the most part in the form of machinery. Namibia’s mineral resources have also attracted certain large commodity groups headquartered in Switzerland.

Trade promotion (Switzerland Global Enterprise)

Cooperation in the domain of education

Scholars and artists from Namibia can apply to the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships.

Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships

Development cooperation and humanitarian aid

Through the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Switzerland participates in the “Regional Psychosocial Support Initiative” (REPSSI), whose purpose is to ensure that children affected by AIDS, poverty, and conflicts have access to the care and psychosocial counselling they require. A number of Swiss NGOs are active in Namibia, in particular, in the domain of education.

Development cooperation and humanitarian aid

Swiss nationals in Namibia

As of the end of 2015, 321 Swiss nationals were living in Namibia. The number of Swiss tourists travelling to Namibia is on the increase (13,000 in 2011, according to Namibian authorities).  

History of bilateral relations

Namibia’s transition to independence, after having been under the control of South Africa since 1920, was negotiated in Geneva under the auspices of the United Nations and was supported by Switzerland. The Federal Council recognised the new country immediately upon its achieving independence in 1990.

True to a long tradition of offering its good diplomatic offices, and out of a desire to facilitate a peaceful resolution to the conflicts in southern Africa, Switzerland in 1988 played host in Geneva to the negotiations on Angola and Namibia. It then lent its support to the UN peace plan, sending a medical unit of 155 members, followed by a team of 31 election observers.

The coordination office that was opened in 1989 in connection with that mission was transformed into a consulate general following independence; this was closed, however, in 1996.

Entry in the Historical Dictionary of Switzerland (de, fr, it)