Investment continues in Namibia despite global economic uncertainty

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Final Business Round-up 2011

 Namibia has a strong track record of attracting foreign investment and many well-known international companies play an active role in a wide variety of sectors including agriculture, fishing, mining, manufacturing, construction, tourism, telecoms and financial services. The Namibian Constitution promotes foreign investment and protects private property. Every month Flamingo brings you a round-up of the most important business and economics news from Namibia put together by Robin Sherbourne of local economic consulting company Namibian Economics. To receive regular updates on the Namibian economy, email

Otjihase and Matchless copper mines, owned by AIM-listed Weatherly International, resumed operations after being placed under care and maintenance at the end of 2008 due to the drop in copper prices that came about as a result of the world economic crisis.

Ohorongo Cement’s state-of-the-art 700 000-tonne cement plant near Otavi was officially inaugurated by President Pohamba. The plant is majority owned by Schwenk of Germany and is designed to supply both the local market and export to southern Angola, Zambia and Botswana.

Finance Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila tabled a highly expansionary budget including N$8.6 billion for development projects aimed partly at addressing Namibia’s high rate of unemployment under a new Targetted Intervention Programme for Economic and Employment Growth.

Namibia’s new Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN) was established on 18 May under the Communications Act of 2009. CRAN is still in the process of setting itself up operationally and administratively. Parts of the Communications Act that deal with the interception of telecommunications, universal service and the establishment of the domain name .na are not yet finalised.

Gecko Chemicals introduced its plans to construct a huge industrial park between Mile 6 and Wlotzkasbaken, which will include factories manufacturing reagents for Namibia’s mines, at a public meeting in Swakopmund. The park would represent an important milestone in the industrial development of Namibia, but all four of the selected sites are located in the newly proclaimed Dorob National Park, a category-one protected area that should not be used for heavy industrial development. Gecko has promised to act on community concerns in its full Strategic Environmental Assessment.

The Government of Namibia and international mining giant De Beers signed a deal giving birth to a restructured Namdeb, the 50:50 joint venture created in 1994. Government will now own 50 per cent of Namdeb Holdings, the holding company of Namdeb Land and Namdeb Sea, the former De Beers Marine Namibia (DBMN) in which Government held only a 15 per cent share. In 2010 some 980 000 carats of Namdeb’s total production of 1.47 million carats were mined by DBMN.

Windhoek’s new five-star 150-room Hilton Hotel was officially inaugurated by President Pohamba, who described the opening of the hotel as an ‘expression of confidence in the Namibian economy in general and in our tourism sector in particular’. The hotel has been built by Namibia’s United Africa Group, which also owns Namibia’s Protea hotels.

UK-based Wanderlust Travel Magazine voted Namibia the world’s top travel destination of 2011.

Namibia’s thirteenth annual Tourism Expo took place in Windhoek between 8 and 11 June. The Expo is jointly organised by the tourism industry, the Namibia Tourism Board and the City of Windhoek. This year the Expo attracted 18 985 visitors.

Brazilian oil independent HRT formally opened its new Windhoek office with a high-profile party. The company says it has raised US$400 million to fund oil exploration in Namibia and has 12 offshore exploration blocks. HRT believes the chances of finding oil are high, as Namibia’s offshore geology is similar to that of Brazil.

Namibia’s new state-of-the-art 700 000 tonnes per annum Ohorongo Cement plant near Otavi clinched its first deal with the DRC and will export some 18 000 tonnes of cement by ship via Walvis Bay.

President Hifikepunye Pohamba attended the two-day Commonwealth Business Council (CBC) Africa Business Forum in London. “We have started interacting with world business leaders; some wanted to talk politics, but I said ‘No, let us talk business’,” said the President. Trade and Industry Minister Hage Geingob assured mining investors that they can ‘sleep peacefully’ and needn’t fear plans to give exclusive exploration and mining rights of strategic minerals to Namibia’s state-owned mining company Epangelo.

Laurelton Reign Diamonds, a subsidiary of Tiffany & Co, officially opened a new N$25 million diamond cutting and polishing factory in Windhoek. The diamonds the factory will cut and polish are purchased from the Namibian Diamond Trading Company.

Namibia’s third National Population and Housing Census kicked off in 2011 and is expected to cost more than N$300 million.

President Hifikepunye Pohamba opened the N$185 million third phase of the Wernhil Park shopping mall, bringing the investment by the Ohlthaver & List Group in property development in Windhoek’s central business district to N$600 million since 2003.

Namibia fell nine places from 74th to 83rd in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness rankings due primarily to an increase in the country’s budget deficit.

Safland Namibia carried out a ground-breaking ceremony in Windhoek’s Kleine Kuppe suburb where it plans to build The Grove, set be the largest shopping mall in Southern Africa outside South Africa, at a cost of some N$1.1 billion.

The Namibian economy rebounded far more strongly than expected last year as new statistics showed that real GDP rose 6.6 per cent in 2010 following negative growth of 0.4 per cent in 2009.

Projects being implemented by the US-funded five-year Millennium Challenge Account Namibia Compact are making good progress with 140 procurement contracts worth US$148 million having been signed by the end of September out of a total commitment of US$304.5 million.

A new N$50 million joint venture between India’s GPT and Namibia’s TransNamib, which produces concrete railway sleepers, was officially inaugurated in Tsumeb at a ceremony attended by Deputy Prime Minister Marco Hausiku.

Bidvest Namibia announced it had acquired 100 per cent of Namibian fast-moving consumer goods distribution company Taeuber & Corssen SWA for N$188.7 million. The deal is subject to the approval of the Namibia Competition Commission.

Minister of Trade and Industry Hage Geingob inaugurated a new N$50 million salt refinery, Ekango Salt Refinery, in Walvis Bay. The new company is a joint venture between Walvis Bay Salt Holdings and two Namibian empowerment groups, EVI Mining and EHI Investments.

Namibia experienced a slight fall of 2.8 per cent in tourist numbers in 2010 compared to 2009, according to the latest figures released by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism. Arrivals totalled 984 099 in 2010.

Namibia was ranked 6th out of 53 countries in Africa for good governance by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, scoring 70 points out of a possible 100.

President Pohamba inaugurated the new N$34 million Dolomite Camp in the western area of the Etosha National Park, which is due to be run by the state-owned tourism company Namibia Wildlife Resorts.

The World Bank and International Finance Corporation ranked Namibia 78th out of 83 countries in its latest Doing Business report, down from 69th last year.

The first Made in Namibia Expo exhibiting Namibian products was held from 29 November to 1 December at the Safari Hotel and Conference Centre in Windhoek.

Following favourable credit ratings by Fitch and Moody’s, Namibia successfully issued its first-ever Eurobond. The US$500 million 10-year bond, which carries a 5.5 per cent coupon and was priced at 5.75 per cent to yield, was five times oversubscribed.

Government awarded a mining licence to the ASX-listed Extract Resources subsidiary Swakop Uranium for its Husab project, which will produce some 15 million pounds of uranium a year and be the world’s third-largest uranium mine.

The Bank of Namibia maintained its repurchase rate at 6.0 per cent throughout 2011 as inflation rose from 3.5 per cent in January to 6.1 per cent in October.

Key indicators           

€/N$ exchange rate            10.8282 (8 December 2011)

£/N$ exchange rate            12.6948 (8 December 2011)

US$/N$ exchange rate            8.0777 (8 December 2011)

Prime lending rate            9.75% (December 2011)

Inflation rate            6.1% (October 2011)

Gross Domestic Product (GDP)             N$81.5 billion (2010)

World Bank classification            Upper-middle-income country


This article appeared in the January’12 Edition of FLAMINGO Magazine.


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