Economic and Political Overview

flag Namibia Namibia: Economic and Political Overview

In this page: Economic Indicators | Foreign Trade in Figures | Sources of General Economic Information | Political Outline | COVID-19 Country Response

 

Economic Indicators

After years of robust growth, the Namibian economy entered into recession in 2019 and 2020, impacted by the dissipation of temporary stimuli, a drop in raw material prices, a severe drought, and then the COVID-19 pandemic. The economy returned to growth in 2021 (3.5%) and 2022 (4.6%), supported by robust diamond, gold, and uranium production, and a gradual recovery in tourism and manufacturing. Economic activity surpassed the pre-pandemic level in 2023, when growth was estimated at 3.2%, driven by mining and recovering tourism. The IMF projects growth to remain in the 2.5–3% range over the medium term, excluding offshore oil and gas exploration activities.

Namibia has experienced a period of exceptional growth masking increasing macroeconomic imbalances, a slowdown in productivity, and a decline in external competitiveness. Nevertheless, fiscal imbalances are expected to narrow, supported by fiscal consolidation measures to mobilize additional tax revenues and increase spending efficiency. The fiscal deficit decreased from 8.6% of GDP in FY21/22 to 5.3% of GDP in FY22/23. Revenue increased by 1.2% of GDP due to one-off dividends from state-owned enterprises, primarily diamond companies, offsetting the decline in SACU receipts (1.1% of GDP); increased mineral royalties; and improved VAT compliance measures. Expenditures decreased by 2.2% of GDP. In FY23/24, the fiscal deficit was estimated at 3.9% of GDP, leading to a decrease in the public debt-to-GDP ratio to approximately 66%. However, SACU revenues, which played a crucial role in achieving this favorable result, were anticipated to decline the following year, posing a challenge to the authorities' medium-term fiscal consolidation plan. Headline inflation dropped from a peak of 7.3% (y/y) in August 2022 to an estimated average of 6% in 2023; however, core inflation remained below 5%, and inflation expectations have returned to the target range of 3–6% (IMF). The IMF recommends tackling elevated public debt and slow growth in non-resource sectors, as well as implementing fiscal consolidation to ease debt burdens and stimulate private sector growth. Strengthening Public Financial Management (PFM) and improving the performance of State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) will enhance productivity and ensure effective management of natural resource revenues. Streamlining business regulations and ensuring policy stability will invigorate the private sector.

Namibia is one of the countries with the highest inequalities: the country more than halved the poverty rate between 1993 and 2022, but poverty incidence remains relatively high for an upper-middle-income country (at around 18% as of 2022 using the international poverty line, according to the World Bank). Nevertheless, when using the upper middle-income poverty rate (USD 6.85), the poverty rate spikes to 57.3%. Unemployment is high and affected 20% of the population in 2022 (from 21.1% one year earlier - World Bank, latest data available), with a notable disparity between rural and urban areas, as well as among women and young people. Overall, the country’s GDP per capita (PPP) was estimated at USD 11,531 in 2022 by the World Bank.

 
Main Indicators 20222023 (E)2024 (E)2025 (E)2026 (E)
GDP (billions USD) 12.6012.6513.5914.5015.22
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change) 4.62.82.72.72.7
GDP per Capita (USD) 4,8544,7865,0535,2945,458
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 69.867.666.865.464.5
Inflation Rate (%) n/a6.04.94.94.9
Current Account (billions USD) -1.61-0.90-0.86-0.80-0.77
Current Account (in % of GDP) -12.7-7.1-6.4-5.5-5.1

Source: IMF – World Economic Outlook Database , Latest available data

Note: (e) Estimated Data

Main Sectors of Industry

Namibia is one of the most important diamond exporters and the 3rd-largest uranium producer in the world. Agriculture accounts for 8.4% of the Namibian economy and employs 22% of the workforce (World Bank, latest data available), although around 70% of the population depends directly or indirectly on agriculture for their income and livelihood. The country's arid climate and geographic conditions do not favour farming, and the crop variety is rather limited: Namibia is the driest country in Sub-Saharan Africa and depends largely on groundwater (only 2% of Namibia’s land receives sufficient rainfall to grow crops). Of Namibia's entire land area, 47% is allocated for agricultural activities, with one percent of this portion categorized as arable land (FAO). Major crops include maize, millet, and sorghum. The livestock sector is productive and export-oriented, with beef accounting for the largest share of livestock exports. Fishing is another important component of the primary sector (accounting for almost 25% of all activities), as Namibian waters are rich in fish.

The secondary sector contributes 29.7% of the GDP and employs about 17% of the active population. It is characterized by the predominance of the mining industry thanks to the country's rich subsoil. Major mining products include diamonds, uranium, lead, copper, and arsenic. Diamonds account for almost 70% of all mining exports. While Namibian diamond production is less significant than neighboring countries (Botswana, South Africa, and Zimbabwe), the country is among the world's first in value per unit. Namibia also has the largest marine mine in the world. Offshore diamond production is increasing (it provides 75% of total production according to Coface), while onshore extraction is decreasing due to the exhaustion of terrestrial deposits. Additionally, Namibia is the third-largest producer of uranium in the world and is home to two mines capable of producing 10% of the world's output. Husab's uranium mine is the third-largest surface uranium mine in the world. Food processing (beef and fish) is the largest non-mining component of the secondary sector. According to the World Bank, manufacturing accounts for around 11% of GDP. Namibia's diamond mining industry faced reduced growth in 2023 due to declining international prices, with growth rates projected at 5.5% and 9.7% for 2023 and 2024, respectively, down from 45.1% in 2022. The uranium mining sector was estimated to expand by 14.8% in 2023 before moderating to 3% growth in 2024 (Bank of Namibia).

Services account for 54.2% of GDP and employ 62% of the working population. The main sub-sectors within services include tourism, financial services, retail and wholesale trade, transport and communication, and public administration. Namibia's diverse landscapes and extensive wildlife offer significant tourism assets and as such, tourism is a major source of income, its direct contribution to GDP being around 10%. The banking sector in Namibia comprises nine authorized banking institutions, including seven commercial banking institutions, a branch of a foreign bank, and a representative office (Bank of Namibia).

 
Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector Agriculture Industry Services
Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment) 22.1 16.4 61.5
Value Added (in % of GDP) 8.6 28.0 55.5
Value Added (Annual % Change) 2.6 10.4 2.2

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.

 

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Monetary Indicators 20162017201820192020
Namibian Dollar (NAD) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 MUR 0.410.390.390.410.42

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.

 
 

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Indicator of Economic Freedom

Definition:

The Economic freedom index measure ten components of economic freedom, grouped into four broad categories or pillars of economic freedom: Rule of Law (property rights, freedom from corruption); Limited Government (fiscal freedom, government spending); Regulatory Efficiency (business freedom, labour freedom, monetary freedom); and Open Markets (trade freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom). Each of the freedoms within these four broad categories is individually scored on a scale of 0 to 100. A country’s overall economic freedom score is a simple average of its scores on the 10 individual freedoms.

Score:
62,6/100
World Rank:
83
Regional Rank:
6

Economic freedom in the world (interactive map)
Source: Index of Economic Freedom, Heritage Foundation

 
 

Country Risk

See the country risk analysis provided by Coface.

 

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Foreign Trade in Figures

Namibia is very open to foreign trade, which represents 92% of the country’s GDP (World Bank). Customs duties are low, but some trade barriers remain, including a number of import and export restrictions, mostly on agricultural products. The country's economy is closely linked to that of South Africa, with the Namibian dollar pegged to the South African rand. The country is a member of the SACU (Southern African Customs Union) and SADC (Southern African Development Community). Namibia also ratified the African Continental Free Trade Agreement. In 2016, the EU signed an EPA with the SADC EPA Group comprising Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland. According to 2022 data by Comtrade, the country’s main exports are diamonds (27.1% of the total), gold (6.9%), petroleum oils (6.3%), fish fillets and other fish meat (5.3%), frozen fish (5.1%), and copper ores and concentrates (3.5%); whereas imports are led by petroleum oils (17.3%), copper ores and concentrates (4.5%), diamonds (3.3%), motor vehicles for the transport of goods (3.1%), and precious-metal ores and concentrates (2.2%). Namibia's exports are mainly directed to South Africa (16.3%), Botswana (16.1%), China (11.5%), Zambia (7.2%), the Democratic Republic of Congo (5.2%), and the Netherlands (5.1%). South Africa (38.9%), China (7.6%), India (4.7%), the United Arab Emirates (3.8%), and the United States (3.3%) are the main suppliers (Comtrade, latest data available). Namibia’s trade balance is structurally in deficit because of the country’s high demand for high-valued manufactured commodities and machinery, and exports of mainly primary commodities that are of low value, with the exception of diamonds. In 2022, merchandise exports amounted to USD 6.3 billion (-12.7% year-on-year), while imports decreased at a faster pace and stood at USD 7.9 billion (-20%%). In the same year, exports of services reached USD 925 million, while imports amounted to USD 854 million (WTO). Overall, the World Bank estimated the country’s trade deficit at 18.3% of its GDP (stable compared to one year earlier). According to preliminary figures by Namibia’s Statistics Agency, in 2022 the value of exports reached NAD 104.4 billion via-à-vis NAD 136.8 billion in imports.

 
Foreign Trade Indicators 20182019202020212022
Imports of Goods (million USD) 8,2898,0866,82310,9927,905
Exports of Goods (million USD) 7,4886,2565,6007,2646,339
Imports of Services (million USD) 604627747854854
Exports of Services (million USD) 762702684674925
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 1.2-4.0-15.020.323.6
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 16.1-8.7-16.61.420.0
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 45.846.543.250.156.4
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 35.936.433.731.937.6
Trade Balance (million USD) -1,555-1,302-985-1,957-2,275
Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD) -1,397-1,227-1,048-2,137-2,204
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 81.782.976.982.094.0

Source: WTO – World Trade Organisation ; World Bank , Latest Available Data

 

Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
2022
South Africa 16.3%
Botswana 16.1%
China 11.5%
Zambia 7.2%
Democratic Republic of Congo 5.2%
See More Countries 43.8%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
2022
South Africa 38.9%
China 7.6%
India 4.7%
United Arab Emirates 3.8%
United States 3.3%
See More Countries 41.7%

Source: Comtrade, Latest Available Data

 
 

Main Products

6.3 bn USD of products exported in 2022
Diamonds, whether or not worked, but not mounted...Diamonds, whether or not worked, but not mounted or set (excl. unmounted stones for pick-up styluses, worked stones, suitable for use as parts of meters, measuring instruments or other articles of chapter 90) 27.1%
Gold, incl. gold plated with platinum, unwrought...Gold, incl. gold plated with platinum, unwrought or not further worked than semi-manufactured or in powder form 6.9%
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 6.3%
Fish fillets and other fish meat, whether or not...Fish fillets and other fish meat, whether or not minced, fresh, chilled or frozen 5.3%
Frozen fish (excl. fish fillets and other fish...Frozen fish (excl. fish fillets and other fish meat of heading 0304) 5.1%
See More Products 49.2%
7.9 bn USD of products imported in 2022
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 17.3%
Copper ores and concentratesCopper ores and concentrates 4.5%
Diamonds, whether or not worked, but not mounted...Diamonds, whether or not worked, but not mounted or set (excl. unmounted stones for pick-up styluses, worked stones, suitable for use as parts of meters, measuring instruments or other articles of chapter 90) 3.3%
Motor vehicles for the transport of goods, incl....Motor vehicles for the transport of goods, incl. chassis with engine and cab 3.1%
Precious-metal ores and concentratesPrecious-metal ores and concentrates 2.2%
See More Products 69.5%

Source: Comtrade, Latest Available Data

 
 

To go further, check out our service Import Export Flows.

 
 

Main Services

Source: United Nations Statistics Division, Latest Available Data

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Sources of General Economic Information

Ministries
Ministry of Finance      
Ministry of Industrialisation and Trade
Ministry of Mines and Energy
Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform
Statistical Office
Namibia Statistics Agency
Central Bank
Central Bank
Stock Exchange
Namibian Stock Exchange
Search Engines
Google Namibia
Info.na
NamSearch Directory
Economic Portals
Namibian Chamber of Commerce and Industry

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Political Outline

Current Political Leaders
Acting President Nangolo MBUMBA (since 4 February 2024)
Acting Vice President Netumbo NANDI-NDAITWAHNOTE (since 4 February 2024)
Next Election Dates
Presidential: November 2024
National Council: November 2025
National Assembly: November 2024
Main Political Parties

Namibia has a multi-party system. The main parties are:

  • SWAPO (South West African People's Organisation): Centre-left (Governing party since the independence of Namibia)
  • Popular Democratic Movement (PDM): Centre-right
  • Landless People's Movement (LPM): Left-wing, social democracy
  • Independent Patriots for Change (IPC): Anti-corruption
  • United Democratic Front (UDF): Centre-left
  • National Unity Democratic Organisation (NUDO): Centre-right
  • All People's Party (APP): Centre-left
  • Republican Party: Conservatism
  • Namibian Economic Freedom Fighters (NEFF): Far-left, Pan-African
  • Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP): Centre-left
  • Christian Democratic Voice (CDV): Christian democracy
  • Workers Revolutionary Party (WRP): Left-wing
  • South West African National Union (SWANU): Social democracy.
Type of State
Namibia is a presidential republic.
Executive Power
Executive power is exercised by the government. The President of Namibia is both chief of state and head of the executive power. The president is elected in a national election every five years in which at least 50% of the votes are necessary to be elected. The Cabinet consists of the President, the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and Ministers appointed by the President. The Prime Minister is the Chief Advisor to the President and the overall coordinator of the Government Offices, Ministries and Agencies.
Legislative Power
Legislative power is vested in the Parliament, which consists of two chambers: The National Assembly is the highest law-making body and is composed of 96 elected and 8 non-voting members appointed by the President. Members of the Assembly are elected every five years on a proportional representation system basis. The National Council is the upper chamber of Parliament and is formed of 42 representatives from all fourteen regions of Namibia (three elected members per region). Members of the National Council are indirectly elected within Regional Councils and serve a five-year term. The National Council primarily reviews legislation passed and referred by the National Assembly.
 

Indicator of Freedom of the Press

Definition:

The world rankings, published annually, measures violations of press freedom worldwide. It reflects the degree of freedom enjoyed by journalists, the media and digital citizens of each country and the means used by states to respect and uphold this freedom. Finally, a note and a position are assigned to each country. To compile this index, Reporters Without Borders (RWB) prepared a questionnaire incorporating the main criteria (44 in total) to assess the situation of press freedom in a given country. This questionnaire was sent to partner organisations,150 RWB correspondents, journalists, researchers, jurists and human rights activists. It includes every kind of direct attacks against journalists and digital citizens (murders, imprisonment, assault, threats, etc.) or against the media (censorship, confiscation, searches and harassment etc.).

World Rank:
24/180
 

Indicator of Political Freedom

Definition:

The Indicator of Political Freedom provides an annual evaluation of the state of freedom in a country as experienced by individuals. The survey measures freedom according to two broad categories: political rights and civil liberties. The ratings process is based on a checklist of 10 political rights questions (on Electoral Process, Political Pluralism and Participation, Functioning of Government) and 15 civil liberties questions (on Freedom of Expression, Belief, Associational and Organizational Rights, Rule of Law, Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights). Scores are awarded to each of these questions on a scale of 0 to 4, where a score of 0 represents the smallest degree and 4 the greatest degree of rights or liberties present. The total score awarded to the political rights and civil liberties checklist determines the political rights and civil liberties rating. Each rating of 1 through 7, with 1 representing the highest and 7 the lowest level of freedom, corresponds to a range of total scores.

Ranking:
Free
Political Freedom:
2/7

Political freedom in the world (interactive map)
Source: Freedom in the World Report, Freedom House

 

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COVID-19 Country Response

Travel restrictions
Regularly updated travel information for all countries with regards to Covid-19 related entry regulations, flight bans, test and vaccines requirements is available on TravelDoc Infopage.
To find information about the current travel regulations, including health requirements, it is also advised to consult Travel Regulations Map provided and updated on a daily basis by IATA.
Import & export restrictions
A general overview of trade restrictions which were adopted by different countries during the COVID-19 pandemic is available on the International Trade Centre's COVID-19 Temporary Trade Measures webpage.
Economic recovery plan
For the general overview of the key economic policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic (fiscal, monetary and macroeconomic) undertaken by the government of Namibia, please consult the country's dedicated section in the IMF’s Policy Tracker platform.
Support plan for businesses
For an evaluation of impact of the Covid pandemic on SMEs and an inventory of country responses to foster SME resilience, refer to the OECD's SME Covid-19 Policy Responses document.
You can also consult the World Bank's Map of SME-Support Measures in Response to COVID-19.

 

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Latest Update: April 2024