Namibia is a stable and democratic country. The Namibian Government is committed to stimulating economic growth and employment through the attraction and retention of investments.
The recently-completed expansion of the port at Walvis Bay strategically positions the country as a gateway to the more than 330 million people in the broader Southern Africa market.
Primary infrastructure is relatively well-developed and modern, with a good transport system, an efficient communication system (including cellular networks and broadband internet connectivity), and a sophisticated financial sector. The economy is mostly export-driven, with mining, tourism, fishing and agriculture being Namibia’s key sectors.
Sound democratic governance
Established financial systems
Abundant natural resources
Strategic geographic position
Young and trainable labour force
Conducive investment environment and business-friendly regulatory framework
The Chemicals and Basic Materials sector in Namibia is fairly small and characterised mainly by retailers and distributors of imported products. The Namibian Manufacturers Association (NMA) does, however, list a few manufacturers. Their production range includes paints, various chemicals for cleaning, degreasers and specialty chemicals. However, investment opportunities exist due to an available workforce, the well-developed logistical network and proximity to the strong mining sector, to which many upstream inputs are currently imported.
In Namibia, food production is primarily the responsibility of the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform, which enforces food safety regulations at production and primary handling level, including silos, pack-houses and slaughterhouses.
The Ministry of Health and Social Services is responsible for all food safety issues. The ministry acts as the point of information on compliance to food safety, in line with Codex Alimentarius Commission requirements, for other governments involved in food trade with Namibia.
The Namibia Standards Institute (NSI), under the Ministry of Industrialisation and Trade, is responsible for implementing the Standards Act (18 of 2005), which controls standards on additives, processing aids and all products traded in Namibia.
Food safety of fish and fishery products (in water up to catch and landing) is controlled by the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, while standards of fish offered for trade, whether processed or not, is the responsibility of the Ministry of Industrialisation and Trade.
Food safety standards of plant and animal products exported from Namibia fall under the auspices of the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform.
Registration of food business operators, including food retail and abattoirs for meat destined for national markets, is the responsibility ofregional authorities.
The Public and Environmental Health Act (1 of 2015), which is administered by the Ministry of Health and Social Services, regulates all matters relating to consumer food safety. While the country has a relatively well-developed retail and wholesale sector, it largely depends on imports for food products. Most of the food consumed in Namibia is imported from or through South Africa. Investment opportunities exist across the industry and particularly at the primary production level.
The Machinery and Electronics sector in Namibia is extremely small and characterised by retailers and distributors of imported products. These products are mainly imported from or through South Africa. However, investment opportunities exist due to an available workforce, the well-developed logistical network and proximity to the strong mining sector.
Mining remains one of the leading economic sectors, accounting for roughly 10% of Namibia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Historically, diamond mining has been the leading sub-sector of Namibia’s mining industry. Namdeb Diamond Corporation, the 50:50 joint venture between the Namibian Government and De Beers Group, is the primary land-based diamond mining company, while Debmarine Namibia conducts off-shore diamond mining.
Namibia is the world’s fourth largest producer of uranium oxide and a leading producer of zinc. Other important minerals mined in Namibia include gold, lithium, manganese and cobalt. The Namibian mining industry is well-developed and sophisticated, with numerous companies engaged in exploration and mining activities for various metals and minerals. Several local equipment and service providers exist to facilitate the distribution of foreign goods and services.
Despite having suffered contractions during the last two years, recent data show that the mining sector is rebounding, as reflected in the sector’s composite index which registered a growth of 20.1% in July 2021, compared to a decline of 5.5% in the preceding month. Annually, the index recorded a growth rate of 13.9% for 2021. Investment opportunities exist in mineral beneficiation.
According to the World Bank’s 2018 assessment, Namibia ranked 80th in the world in terms of the Logistics Performance Index (LPI), which places the country in the top 50% of the world. This is a reflection of Namibia’s world-class transport and logistics infrastructure.
The country has two commercial ports, namely at Walvis Bay and Lüderitz, both managed and operated by the Namibian Ports Authority (Namport). The Port of Walvis Bay is key for the future growth of Namibian trade. It handles over 90% of cargo volumes. Zambia, Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Botswana and Zimbabwe are the main markets for transit cargo by volume and Zambia is the dominant market for transit cargo for both imports and exports going through the port. Recent infrastructure upgrades at the port include the construction of a liquid bulk terminal, which is 95% complete and has been operational since 2019, and a new container terminal fitted with state-of-the-art Ship-to-Shore Cranes (STS) with the capacity to considerably exceed quayside productivity levels normally achieved by Mobile Harbour Cranes.
The majority of inland transport in Namibia is done by road freight. Namibia’s road infrastructure is well-established and accounts for more than 72% of total tonne-kilometres of goods transported, including transit cargo.
The Namibian road transport infrastructure is highly dependent on four transport corridors, which connect the ports at Walvis Bay and Lüderitz to Namibia’s towns, cities and hinterland, as well as to neighbouring countries. The Walvis Bay-Ndola-Lubumbashi Development Corridor is the longest at 2,690 km and connects Namibia to SADC countries, including Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Together with the Trans-Kalahari Corridor, which spans a distance of 1,551 km, it provides a fast and comfortable road link between the Port of Walvis Bay on the Atlantic coast and landlocked neighbouring countries. The Trans-Cunene Corridor, measuring 1,551 km, extends through the northern part of Namibia into southern Angola, and the Trans-Oranje Corridor, measuring 1,550 km, links the Port of Lüderitz with the Northern Cape Province of South Africa.
Namibia’s rail infrastructure, which is owned by the Government, covers a total of 2,687 km across the country. About 48% of this rail infrastructure meets the minimum SADC standard of 18.5 tons/axle load. The remaining sections are between 16.5 tons/axle load and 17.5 tons/axle load. The rail network carries passenger and freight traffic, with both services being operated by TransNamib. The railway network transports approximately 1.2 billion tonne-kilometre of cargo annually.
A network of eight airports supports air transport in Namibia. The airports are all managed by the Namibia Airports Company (NAC), with the main hub being Hosea Kutako International Airport (HKIA).
The Ministry of Information Communication and Technology develops policies and is mandated to lay the foundation for accelerated use and development of ICT in Namibia. Telecommunication services and networks, broadcasting services, postal services and the allocation of radio spectrum in Namibia are regulated and supervised by the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN). The communication industry in Namibia is dominated by State-owned Enterprises, namely Telecom Namibia (fixed-line operator), Mobile Telecommunications Company (MTC) (mobile operator) and NamPost (postal operator). The country has a fairly advanced ICT infrastructure, although largely limited to relatively more developed areas. The main challenge facing the ICT sector in Namibia is to make digital services cheaper and more accessible to the public. While most Namibians in rural and urban areas can afford cellular phones, the majority cannot afford internet access.
The Digital Business and Global Services sector in Namibia is fairly underdeveloped. However, this is set to change in the near future, as Namibia will soon have access to the West African Cable System (WACS), a submarine communications cable linking South Africa to the United Kingdom along the west coast of Africa. The Namibian landing station is scheduled to be completed toward the end of 2021 and the cable is expected to reach the coastal town of Swakopmund during the second half of 2022. Moreover, Namibia will have greater access to superfast data transmission, improved voice quality and video conferencing when Google’s Equiano subsea fibreoptic internet cable, which links South Africa to Portugal, is completed. Equiano will also provide a backup in the event of maintenance of or damage to the WACS.
Namibia’s Electricity Supply Industry (ESI) is regulated, operated and managed by several key role players. The Ministry of Mines and Energy is responsible for energy policy and legislation, while the Electricity Control Board (ECB) is the regulator of the ESI. NamPower, a commercial public entity, is responsible for electricity generation, transmission and energy trading. Regional Electricity Distributors (REDs) and some local authorities are licensed to distribute electricity, while a number of Independent Power Producers (IPPs) are licensed to generate renewable energy.
The ECB will be transformed into the Namibia Energy Regulatory Authority (NERA) once the proposed bill is passed by Parliament. The new law seeks to establish a single sectoral regulator which will, among other tasks, regulate electricity, downstream gas and petroleum, and manage renewable energy.
Namibia continues to rely heavily on imported electricity from neighbouring countries and the Southern African Power Pool. In 2020, Namibia imported 60% of the country’s electricity requirements. NamPower generated 32% of the country’s electricity at its hydroelectric power station in Ruacana and 1% at its coal-fueled Van Eck Power Plant in Windhoek, while IPPs generated the remaining 7%. NamPower has three renewable energy projects, namely the Otjikoto Biomass, Omburu Photovoltaic and Lüderitz Wind Power projects. These projects are at various stages of development and will generate an additional 100 MW of electricity upon completion.
Investment opportunities for IPPs exist, as the Government has introduced the Modified Single Buyer Market Model, which allows large power users to purchase up to 30% of their electricity from IPPs.
Moreover, Namibia has joined the green hydrogen revolution. Given its potential to slow climate change and create a sustainable energy supply for the world, green hydrogen has long been lauded as the fuel of the future. The key elements that position Namibia strategically for green hydrogen projects are the country’s vast potential to generate renewable energy, its existing electrical grid infrastructure, and its ports at Walvis Bay and Lüderitz, both capable of exporting green hydrogen to potential international buyers. As such, Namibia ticks all the boxes for green hydrogen production, positioning the country to potentially have among the lowest hydrogen production costs worldwide, and on a large scale.