Namibia gained independence in 1990. The political landscape has since been dominated by the country’s liberation party SWAPO, with Sam Nujoma, former SWAPO leader and first president of the country until 2005, still playing an important role. The last parliamentary and presidential elections were held on 28 November 2014, as a result of which former Prime Minister Hage Geingob acceded to the presidency in March 2015.
The human rights situation in Namibia is satisfying. Judicial independence and press freedom are guaranteed.
The bilateral relations between Austria and Namibia are excellent. At the time, the Austrian Secretary-General of the United Nations, Dr. Kurt Waldheim, played an important role in supporting Namibia’s independence in 1990.
Namibia is covered by the Austrian Embassy in Pretoria, supported by an Austrian Honorary Consulate General in Windhoek. Ambassador Öppinger-Walchshofer presented her credentials on 31 July 2013. Apart from its Embassy in Vienna, Namibia is represented in Austria by Honorary Consulates in Klagenfurt, Linz and Salzburg.
A Memorandum of Understanding for cooperation in the area of transport infrastructure technology was signed in Windhoek on 3 October 2011 between the Austrian Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology and the Namibian Ministry of Transport.
The Austrian Vice-Chancellor and Foreign Minister, Michael Spindelegger, paid a courtesy visit to foreign minister Nujoma on 2 May 2011.
A delegation of the Austrian Ministry of Transport, Innovation and Technology headed by Director Reichhardt visited Namibia in 2010, accompanied by the Austrian Trade Commissioner based in Johannesburg and an Austrian business delegation.
In 2008, Prof. Walter Sauer, Chairman of the Austrian-Namibian Society, presented his book on the history of bilateral relations in Windhoek.
In June 2007, an Austrian citizen from Salzburg, Philipp Pöllitzer, was appointed roman-catholic Bishop of Keetmanshoop.
The former Namibian Prime Minister Theo Ben Gurirab paid a visit to Austria in November 2003. In the same year the Austrian Interior Minister, Ernst Strasser, travelled to Namibia to sign an investment protection agreement and to negotiate an agreement on police cooperation.
About 200 Austrians living in Namibia are registered with the Embassy. However, according to the Embassy’s estimates the actual number of Austrian nationals with permanent residence in Namibia is significantly higher.
Appointment of Deputy Honorary Consul Laggner
On the 21st of April 2016 Mr Reinhard Laggner was appointed by the President of the Republic of Austria Heinz Fischer to be the next Deputy Honorary Consul in Windhoek with authority in the Republic of Namibia.
Due to Deputy Honorary Consul Laggner’s appointment the Consulate Generale Windhoek moved its premises to Am Wasserberg Nr. 13, Klein Windhoek, Windhoek.
The Austrian exports to Namibia amounted to € 9.82 million in 2014 consisting mainly of graders, hydraulic shovels, ceramic products, drinks, and iron and steel products, whereas imports stood at € 15.6 million and consisted predominantly of zinc, grapes, and organic compounds.
OMV is conducting offshore oil explorations, thereby strengthening its engagement in sub-Saharan Africa.
The Austrian NGO SOS Children's Villages operates two Children's Villages in Namibia.
Namibia is a partner country of the Austrian Development Cooperation.
Even though no bilateral projects have been implemented since 2010, Namibia nevertheless benefits from regional programmes of the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) such as SolTrain (Southern African Solar Thermal Training and Demonstration Initiative) or the Energy and Environment Partnership (EEP). Austria contributed € 100,000 in 2008 and € 96,000 in 2009 to reconstruction measures after the country had been hit by severe floods.
Namibia has been a member of UNESCO since 1978. The National Artists' Association holds an annual festival featuring mainly music and dance performances. The relatively large German-speaking community provides a starting point for literature and music (songs).
Through the German Association of Southern Africa (SAGV) the Austrian Embassy is cooperating with the German Institute of the University of Namibia in Windhoek, including through yearly book donations.
On 16 April 2010 the Chief of Protocol of the Austrian Foreign Ministry, Ambassador Melitta Schubert, handed over the "Pan Prize of the Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs of the Year 2010" to professor Dr. Walter Sauer, the President of the Austrian-Namibian Society.