Namibia is a small country by population, 2.3 million in 2012, but it presents interesting investment opportunities. It is situated on the Atlantic coast and has modern port facilities, e.g., Walvis Bay, and is part of the 15-country REC, SADC.
This strategic geographic position allows Namibia to serve as a potential hub for regional and international partnerships. “No country can develop on its own. Countries need each other for development and economic growth,” said Bonaventura Hinda, Commercial Counsellor at the High Commission of the Republic of Namibia in South Africa. Hinda opened the Namibian investment seminar held in Midrand, South Africa recently.
Why should people invest in Namibia? First, Namibia rejoices in smooth transfers of power and has witnessed economic growth of 3.5% – 5.8 % in the last decade. Namibia also prides itself in a number of resources such as gold, diamond, copper, fisheries, iron ore, manganese, and uranium. The country is rated fourth in uranium producing in the world.
Hinda stated that Namibia does a lot of trade with non-African countries, such as Switzerland, China, Germany, Netherlands, Singapore, and others. There is, therefore, a huge need for Africans to trade with other Africans to boost and sustain the African economy. The Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry of Namibia, Honourable Tweya Tjekero added, “This is an African partnership, not a European partnership,” he said to the audience’s amusement.
There are four priority sectors highlighted in the country’s long-term vision, which focus on intra-Africa trade – logistics, agro-processing, manufacturing, and infrastructure. To that end, Tjekero announced that railway construction between Namibia and Angola is underway, as well as development of a highway between Walvis Bay and South Africa, which will increase market access.
Christian Faure of the Namibian Port Authority noted that economic growth in the region of Walvis Bay exceeds that of most traditional markets and is the key to Namibian sustainability. Faure also said there is to invest in the logistics sector as Namibia has moved from position 102 (out of 148 countries surveyed) to position 72 in liner shipping connectivity in 2012. This drives freight rates for customers that the port serves. Namibia has improved even further since 2011 in terms of its connectivity in international markets. Population growth in Walvis Bay has also increased to reach a little over 74,000 in 2012 and is estimated to reach about 170,000 in 2023.
Faure also touched upon the New Walvis Bay Container Terminal. It is estimated that the construction will take about 30 months to complete with the expectation that the new terminal will be in use in 2017. This will provide relief for growing demand on the existing container terminal, and it will supply sufficient space for growth in the future. This project, said Faure, is hugely celebrated as it will smoothen trade in Sub-Saharan Africa. Increasing the port makes Walvis Bay the doorway into the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.
In the energy sector, Hinda shared that Namibia produces 39% of its own power, Eskom produces 40%, Zesco 9%, and Zesa 12 %. The country has four power stations in total and is planning on adding five more for a total of nine.
The agriculture sector has lots of opportunities for investors. This sector supports 70% of the Namibian population as it is the largest employer, said Alexandria Angala, Chief Agricultural Economist in Namibia. The main agricultural sub-sectors are livestock and crop production. Farmers are divided between commercial (mainly sheep farmers) and communal (mainly cattle farmers) levels.
Meat is the main agricultural product produced in Namibia and beef is the most significant product. In 2012, Namibia produced 70,000 tons of beef and 50,000 tons of that was exported in raw form. South Africa is the main African market when it comes to beef. Europe is also a significant consumer market. There are investment opportunities in sausages, biltong hides and skin, and meat processing in the Northern communal areas.
Tjekero noted that Namibia is big in fish exporting, Spain being the main consumer market. Grapes are another key another agricultural product for the country. Tjekero adds that Nambia has potential in wine production, but it needs investment.
Angala stated that all horticultural products, except grapes and dates, are controlled crops which are regulated by the agronomic industry. Key product opportunities are maize, millet, wheat, and sunflowers. Other opportunities in the agricultural value chain are cold storage, ripening rooms and marketing floors.
Angala warned of the challenges that the agriculture sector is facing – climatic conditions, poor soil fertility, and draught, for example. These can also create opportunities for solutions like soil fertilization.
The education sector, which has 1,723 schools, provides a cross section of opportunities. The country still lags behind in ICT services to schools and providing housing to teachers, particularly in the communal areas. In the tourism sector, there is a significant need for hotel facilities to host major international events.
Philip Pendukeni, General Manager of the Epangelo Mining Company (Pty) Ltd, stated that mining accounts for 18-21 % of the country’s GDP. One key need is water solutions for mining facilities.
All in all, Namibia presents both an interesting mix of investment opportunities in the country, as well as strategic geographic and geopolitical positions. As Namibian Commercial Counselor Hinda said, “Namibia: a gem worth investing in.”
Featured image is Alexander Angala, Chief Agricultural Economist, Namibia