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

For the latest updates on the key economic responses from governments to address the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, please consult the IMF's policy tracking platform Policy Responses to COVID-19.

After years of robust growth, 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. From a contraction of -8% GDP in 2020, the economy started to recover in 2021, growing by 1.3% (IMF). Economic growth is expected to strengthen to 3.6% in 2022 and 3.1% in 2023 (IMF), supported by mineral exports and private consumption (Coface).

Namibia has experienced a period of exceptional growth masking increasing macroeconomic imbalances, a slowdown in productivity and a decline in external competitiveness. While the economy was rebalancing, it was hit by a severe drought and the consequences of the pandemic-induced lockdown. Budget deficit worsened to -9.5% GDP in 2020, and while it narrowed to -8.4% GDP in 2021 and is expected to further decrease to -7.6%  GDP in 2023, it remains very high (Coface). Similarly, public debt increased to an estimated 69.9% GDP in 2021, and is forecast to further widen to 72.6% GDP in 2023 before starting to decline to 71.7% GDP in 2023 (IMF). To reduce the risk associated with indebtedness, the authorities are attempting to diversify their sources of financing (Coface). The exchange risk remains limited because this debt is mainly domestic, issued on long-term maturities and denominated in local currency. Inflation increased from 2.2% in 2020 to 4% in 2021, and is expected to reach 4.5% in 2022 and 2023, driven by food and transport prices (IMF). With the Namibian dollar pegged to the rand, the level of inflation will remain vulnerable to the volatility of the South African currency. The government priorities are to support recovery and economic growth, to ensure the sustainability of public finances and debt through fiscal consolidation, to reform the tax system and to implement structural policy reforms. The government's priority is also to better redistribute wealth while maintaining a favorable business environment. Growth has not accompanied job creation and the extreme social and economic inequalities inherited from apartheid persist despite the generous spending allocated to social programs.

Namibia is one of the countries with the highest inequalities. In part due to impact of the pandemic, poverty rate is projected to stay near 65% through 2022 (World Bank) and around 15% of the adult population is infected with the AIDS virus. Unemployment is high and affected 20.4% of the population in 2020 (World Bank), with a notable disparity between rural (39%) and urban areas (30%), among women (38%) and young people (43%).

 
Main Indicators 20202021 (e)2022 (e)2023 (e)2024 (e)
GDP (billions USD) 10.5812.3112.4913.3614.08
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change) -8.02.73.03.22.6
GDP per Capita (USD) 44455
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 66.672.071.871.771.5
Inflation Rate (%) 2.23.66.44.94.5
Current Account (billions USD) 0.27-1.12-1.00-0.56-0.54
Current Account (in % of GDP) 2.6-9.1-8.0-4.2-3.8

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

Note: (e) Estimated Data

Main Sectors of Industry

Namibia is one of the most important diamonds exporters and the 3rd largest uranium producer in the world. The country also has one of the most productive fishing industries in the world. Agriculture accounts for 9.2% of the Namibian economy and employs more than a fifth of the workforce (World Bank, 2020). The country's arid climate and geographic conditions do not favour farming and the crop variety is rather limited. Major crops include: maize, millet and sorghum. The livestock sector is productive and export oriented. Beef accounts for the largest share of livestock exports. Fishing is another important component of the primary sector (accounting for almost 25% of all activities in the primary sector), as Namibian waters are rich in fish.

The secondary sector contributes to 26.3% of GDP and employs about 16% of the active population. The sector is characterised 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 neighbouring countries (Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe), the country is among the world's first in value per unit, with an average price of USD 578 per carat (De Beers Interim Financial Reports 2021). 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. In addition, Namibia is the third largest producer of uranium in the world, and is home to two mines capable of producing 10% of the world 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.

Services account for 59.1% of GDP and employ 62% of the working population. Namibia's diverse landscapes and extensive wildlife offers significant tourism assets and as such, tourism is a major source of income. Its direct contribution to GDP is around 10%. The construction sector is the activity that suffered most during the recession and is struggling to regain a positive momentum.

 
Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector Agriculture Industry Services
Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment) 21.9 16.4 61.8
Value Added (in % of GDP) 9.0 26.5 57.9
Value Added (Annual % Change) 5.9 -14.6 -5.6

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.

 

Find more information about your business sector on our service Market Reports.

 
 
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.

 
 

Find out all the exchange rates daily on our service Currency Converter.

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 76% of the country’s GDP (World Bank). Customs duties are low and there are no major trade barriers. 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), whose free-trade zone (FTZ) was inaugurated in 2008. 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. Copper, diamonds, uranium, gold, fish, cobalt and live animals continue to lead the market for export commodities. Copper, mineral fuels and oils, diamonds, vehicles, and cobalt lead the list of major imports to Namibia.

Namibia's exports are mainly directed to China (34.1% of exports), South Africa (14.5%), Botswana, Belgium, Spain, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. South Africa (36.2% of imports), Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, China, Bulgaria, India and the United States are the main suppliers.

Namibia’s trade balance is structurally in deficit because of Namibia’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. Nonetheless, the trade deficit has followed a downward trend in recent years, dropping from USD -2.9 billion in 2015 to USD -907 million in 2020 (World Bank). This trend is expected to continue thanks to higher exports of uranium and fishery products, and lower imports resulting from weak consumption and low oil prices. In 2020, merchandise exports amounted to USD 5.6 billion, while imports reached USD 6.8 billion. Exports of services reached USD 352 million, while imports amounted to USD 419 million (WTO). Exports of goods and services decreased by -17.7% compared to 2019, while imports decreased by-15.7%. After the decrease in trade volume due to the Covid-19 pandemic, mining exports are expected to rebound in 2022, and services should benefit from a revival in tourism (Coface).

 
Foreign Trade Indicators 20172018201920202021
Imports of Goods (million USD) 6,6888,2898,0866,8239,122
Exports of Goods (million USD) 4,7997,4886,2565,6006,696
Imports of Services (million USD) 637533539419589
Exports of Services (million USD) 693728646352413
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) -10.11.3-3.9-15.7n/a
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 1.915.9-9.4-17.7n/a
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 47.645.846.141.5n/a
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 33.635.835.833.0n/a
Trade Balance (million USD) -1,811-1,555-1,302-907n/a
Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD) -1,664-1,377-1,212-986n/a
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 81.281.681.974.5n/a

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

 

Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
2020
China 34.1%
South Africa 14.5%
Botswana 8.0%
Belgium 5.2%
Spain 4.6%
See More Countries 33.5%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
2020
South Africa 36.2%
Zambia 19.1%
Democratic Republic of Congo 5.5%
China 4.5%
Bulgaria 3.8%
See More Countries 31.0%

Source: Comtrade, Latest Available Data

 
 

Main Products

5.6 bn USD of products exported in 2020
Copper, unrefined; copper anodes for electrolytic...Copper, unrefined; copper anodes for electrolytic refining 23.6%
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) 18.6%
Uranium or thorium ores and concentratesUranium or thorium ores and concentrates 11.2%
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 7.0%
Copper, refined, and copper alloys, unwrought ...Copper, refined, and copper alloys, unwrought (excl. copper alloys of heading 7405) 5.9%
See More Products 33.8%
6.8 bn USD of products imported in 2020
Copper, unrefined; copper anodes for electrolytic...Copper, unrefined; copper anodes for electrolytic refining 17.4%
Copper ores and concentratesCopper ores and concentrates 8.4%
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 7.9%
Copper, refined, and copper alloys, unwrought ...Copper, refined, and copper alloys, unwrought (excl. copper alloys of heading 7405) 5.3%
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) 5.0%
See More Products 56.1%

Source: Comtrade, Latest Available Data

 
 

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

 
 

Main Services

0.2 bn USD of services exported in 2020
47.08%
16.60%
16.02%
9.04%
5.46%
3.39%
0.90%
0.88%
0.63%
0.01%
0.5 bn USD of services imported in 2020
30.83%
22.46%
15.48%
11.41%
6.66%
6.66%
2.50%
1.54%
1.42%
0.84%
0.20%

Source: United Nations Statistics Division, Latest Available Data

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Political Outline

Current Political Leaders
President: Hage Geingob (since 21 March 2015)
Prime Minister: Saara Kuugongelwa (since 21 March 2015)
Next Election Dates
Presidential: November 2024
National Council: November 2025
National Assembly: November 2024
Main Political Parties
  • SWAPO (South West African People's Organisation) : Centre-left (Governing party since the independence of Namibia)
  • Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) : Centre-right
  • Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) : Centre-left
  • All People's Party (APP) : Centre-left
  • United Democratic Front (UDF) : Centre-left
  • National Unity Democratic Organisation (NUDO) - Centre-right
  • Workers Revolutionary Party (WRP) : Left-wing
  • Republican Party
  • South West African National Union (SWANU) : social democracy
  • United People's Movement
Type of State
Democratic 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 they must win more than 50% of the votes. The Cabinet consists of the President, the Prime Minister, 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 formed of 72 elected and six appointed non-voting members (by the President). Members of parliament are elected every five years on a proportional representation system basis. The National Council is the upper chamber of Parliament and is formed of 26 representatives from all thirteen regions of Namibia (two elected members per region). Members of the National Council are elected indirectly within Regional Councils, whose elections are based on a first-past-the-post system after every six years.
 

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

COVID-19 epidemic evolution
To find out about the latest status of the COVID19 pandemic evolution and the most up-to-date statistics on the COVID-19 disease in Namibia, please visit the Worldometer’s Coronavirus page for Namibia.

For the international outlook you can consult the latest situation reports published by the World Health Organisation as well as the global daily statistics on the coronavirus pandemic evolution including data on confirmed cases and deaths by country.
Sanitary measures
To find out about the latest public health situation in Namibia consult President Dr. Hage G. Geingobat’s Media Briefing on the Partial Lifting of the Lockdown Restrictions.
Travel restrictions
The COVID-19 situation, including the spread of new variants, evolves rapidly and differs from country to country. All travelers need to pay close attention to the conditions at their destination before traveling. Regularly updated information for all countries with regards to Covid-19 related travel restrictions in place including entry regulations, flight bans, test requirements and quarantine is available on TravelDoc Infopage.
It is also highly recommended to consult COVID-19 Travel Regulations Map provided and updated on the daily basis by IATA.
The US government website of Centers of Disease Control and Prevention provides COVID-19 Travel Recommendations by Destination.

The UK Foreign travel advice also provides travelling abroad advice for all countries, including the latest information on coronavirus, safety and security, entry requirements and travel warnings.
Import & export restrictions
The Ministry of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development needs to be consulted prior to the export of certain selected goods including face masks and hand sanitiser.

For a general overview of trade restrictions due to COVID-19 pandemic, please consult the International Trade Centre's COVID-19 Temporary Trade Measures webpage.

Economic recovery plan
For  information on the economic recovery scheme put in place by the Namibian government to address the impact of the COVID19 pandemic on the Namibian economy, refer to the article Deloitte report COVID-19 Pandemic: Announcement of economic stimulus and relief package by the Minister of Finance.

For a general overview of the key economic policy responses to the COVID-19 outbreak (fiscal, monetary and macroeconomic) taken by the Namibian government to limit the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, please consult the section dedicated to Namibia in the IMF’s Policy Tracker platform.
Support plan for businesses
For information on the local business support scheme established by the Namibian government and other organizations to help small and medium-sized companies to deal with the economic impacts of the COVID19 epidemic on their activity refer to the Development Bank of Namibia’s statement Development Bank donates N$1.4 million to Covid-19 Disaster Relief Fund and the Deloitte report COVID-19 Pandemic: Announcement of economic stimulus and relief package by the Minister of Finance.

For a general overview of international SME support policy responses to the COVID-19 outbreak refer to the World Bank's Map of SME-Support Measures in Response to COVID-19.
Support plan for exporters
There are no specific support plans for exporters in Namibia so far.
 

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Latest Update: November 2022