Founded upon principles rooted in open-mindedness, courage and freedom, Namibia today stands strong and proud as a peaceful and stable democracy endowed with abundant natural resources and a prolific network of trade relations.
Under President Hage Gottfried Geingob’s guidance, Vision 2030, the nation’s long term plan for industrialisation, is taking on definition. Aided by the complementary Harambee Prosperity Plan fast-tracking the nation’s development, Namibia’s fifth National Development Plan (NDP5) launched in 2017, highlights four pillars in order to target growth, namely economic progression, social transformation, environmental sustainability and good governance.
“In our development plan, we are trying to create an inclusive financial sector,” Hon. Carl-Hermann Gustav ‘Calle’ Schlettwein, Minister of Agriculture explains. “We have a number of pillars but inclusivity is the main goal to erode inequality and make all services available to all sections of the income pyramid.” Namibia is also extremely well established within the global economy with excellent market access from an export point of view. It is a member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Southern African Customs Union and has preferential trade agreements with SADC, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and East African Community (EAC).
- A Logistics Hub
With borders on Angola, Botswana, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Zambia, the role of transport and logistics in Namibia has been key to its economic development. Strategically located half way down Namibia’s coast, Port Walvis Bay, Namibia’s largest commercial world-class deep-water port, provides the SADC region with the quickest and shortest route to Europe and North and South America and a gateway for export and import of goods by neighbouring countries.
With 90% of Africa’s imports and exports being carried out by sea, Namibia has ramped up infrastructure expansion to meet demands. “The government has invested quite a lot of money to extend and put a container terminal in Walvis Bay so that this hub can handle more containers and enhance trade,” reveals Hon. John Mutorwa, Minister of Works and Transport. A mega N$4.2 billion project was carried out on over 40 hectares of reclaimed land in 2019. The new container terminal has a 600 metre main quay, four ship-to-shore cranes and onshore handling equipment, a 376 metre passenger liner jetty and a dedicated cruise liner wharf. This has doubled the annual container handling capacity to at least 750,000 TEU.
Awarded top position for the best roads in Africa by the World Economic Forum (WEF) for several consecutive years, Namibia’s road network has also been key in its contribution to the economic growth of other SADC countries. “We are a vast country, we have about 47,000 km of road network of which 9,000 is bitumen road. In addition to that, we have four transport corridors, which are mostly serving our neighbouring countries and, by implication, the rest of Africa,” confirms Conrad Lutombi, CEO of Roads Authority of Namibia.
- The New Frontier of African Renaissance
With nearly a thousand miles of coastline stretching from the Skeleton Coast in the north to the Orange River in the south, the economic importance of Namibia’s marine resources has been long since been recognised by the country. “We have a very long coastline and a very large maritime area which has a lot of potential,” states Immanuel Mulunga, MD of Namcor. As part of Vision 2030, Namibia is determined to promote its Blue Economy Strategy 2017-2022 which addresses the development of marine mining, tourism, port infrastructure and services in an ecologically sustainable manner. With a blue economy that accounts for about 28.8% of the country’s GDP, Namibia has allocated US$5 million for marine protection and research.
Currently, fisheries and diamond mining are the nation’s main marine economic activities. Namibia’s fisheries contributes to about 15 % of total exports and is the country’s second biggest export earner, after mining and the third largest contributor to GDP. Namibia is also world leader in recovering diamonds from the sea. “The fishing sector is a very important sector in growth and is very important for our forex earnings,” elaborated Tom Alweendo, Minister of Mines and Energy. “Namibia has been a diamond mining economy for a long time. This has been mostly land-based, but we are currently exploring the sea through the development of unique technology.”
Indeed, in May 2019 Namibia pioneered a distinctive form of marine diamond recovery which is also highly environmentally sustainable. “Namibia is a big country with a low population and lots of natural resources. Name it and we have it: minerals, fisheries, tourism, natural resources,” concludes Reinhard Gärtner, Interim Executive Director of Namibia Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
- Leading growth in Namibia’s extractive sector
Namibia has a long history in mining and is replete with several minerals. Today, due to first-class infrastructure and the ease of doing business, it is the nation’s best performing economic sector through the production of diamonds, uranium, copper, magnesium, zinc, silver, gold, lead, semi-precious stones and has the potential to lead the way towards the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Fitch Solutions forecast Namibia’s mining sector to continue seeing strong growth in 2020 onwards as uranium production ramps up. “The great potential the country has as far as mining and mineral resources are concerned is evident,” claims Mark Dawe, Country Manager of B2Gold Namibia. “Everything is about re-establishing a natural environment.” In August 2019, Namcor signed a N$3.2 billion five year fuel deal with Swakop Uranium which includes the supply of fuel and lubricants to one of the world’s largest uranium mines. “We basically stand ready as a catalyst to assist Namibia in becoming a petroleum producing country in the next couple of years,” comments Immanuel Mulunga, MD of Namcor.
Ease of doing business has been key to growing Namibia’s industries. “The bureaucracy here is very easy,” confirms Patty Karuaihe-Martin, CEO of NamibRe. “We have very favourable tax laws, as well as lots of incentives.” Vetumbuavi Mungunda, CEO of Standard Bank concurs, “Namibia has the key pillars of stability that are imperative for any business. There is political stability, social stability, a strong rule of law and a good judicial system.”
- Focusing on the future
In order for NDP5’s objectives to be realised the economy needs to ensure it also focuses upon SME development. “SMEs are core in terms of economic growth. We allocate quite a few funds to our training programmes for SMEs,” states Baronice Hans, MD of Bank Windhoek. Consequently, the nation has poured abundant efforts and funding into education. “The sector we have made good progress in is education,” elaborates Hon. Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of International Relations. “Today, school enrolment has increased to 95%, and that is a big achievement.”
In recent years, the Ministry of Education has highlighted the importance of vocational training. “Education and improvement of oneself is priority number one,” claims Ester Kali, CEO of Letshego Bank. “At Letshego Bank, we are dedicated to improving livelihoods and promoting financial literacy initiatives.” CEO of the Development Bank of Namibia, Martin Inkumbi details the Bank’s dedication in supporting the nation’s youth: “We have introduced a special lending product for targeting youth, especially young people with skills from vocational training institutions who would like to start their own businesses.”
- Namibia’s Pearl Jubilee
With bold and innovative strategies firmly in place and after 30 years since its independence and consistent hard work, Namibia has fully emerged as the pearl it is, perfectly formed and compact and ready to be launched into its bright, shiny and beautiful future at the heart of Africa.