02.08.2017

Namibian Economics to the Point – July 2017


Namibia’s economy experiences new growth after the dip in 2016. The good rains this past summer season filled central dams: Windhoek has sufficient water reserves until 2020, the water committee of the Cabinet announced this month. Agricultural production has improved, live cattle fetch good prices.”

Positive outlooks 

President Hage Geingob announced at a press conference that Namibia`s economy is coming out of the woods. “We believe the economy has been through the brunt of the downturn and is now on a recovery path”, said Geingob at the end of July.

Namibia’s economy is to grow by 1.2 percent this year, the central bank projected in early July. 2016 it was a 0.5 percent growth. The Bank of Namibia (BoN) foresees even better economic growth for 2018 at 3.7 percent. This June, inflation dropped to 6.1 percent, from 6.3% in May. Petrol and diesel prices was reduced with 50 cents (5%) per litre. One litre of petrol now costs N$10.82 (0.71 Euro) in Windhoek. Namibia’s diamond production improved this year so far: between January and June 863,000 carats were produced, being 16.6% or 123,000 ct more than in the same period 2016. Of the total of 863,000 carats, 697,000 ct came from offshore production and 166,000 ct onshore.

Goodbye wintertime
 

Wintertime in Namibia might be abolished by 2018 after approximately twenty years. After a draft bill to that effect failed in Parliament in March, a parliamentary standing committee held public hearings in all fourteen regions. The overwhelming response showed that only summertime – GMT plus 2 hours - should prevail, wintertime should be abolished. It is expected that the bill is to be tabled again in Parliament during September and will pass this time.

Investment and Trade

Namibia’s Ohlthaver & List Group started the extension of its Wernhil Shopping Centre in Windhoek this month. Extension phase 4 requires N$500 million (some 33 million Euros) investment. About 1,100 jobs are created during the construction phase, 700 new permanent jobs will be created after completion due to added retail space at Wernhil. 

The University of Namibia (UNAM) plans to set up a Centre for Mining and Metallurgical Research and Training at Arandis near Swakopmund. At UNAM’s satellite campus at Henties Bay, a School of Maritime Studies and Maritime Engineering will be established. The Maritime School will later on relocate to Walvis Bay. 

The local company Mobile Telecommunications (MTC) will invest about N$4 billion (about 261 million Euro) until 2019, to expand its 3G and 4G mobile coverage. MTC aims to bring 3G mobile coverage to the remotest corners of Namibia under its slogan “081-every1”.

Lord Price visits

British Trade Minister, Lord Price, jetted into Windhoek for one day this month. Lord Price re-assured Namibia that Britain’s post-Brexit trade era will remain largely unchanged. Come April 2019, the UK will negotiate its independent trade agreement with Namibia outside the EU umbrella. The new agreement would not bring less favourable conditions for Namibia, the British delegation said. Namibia exports table grapes, beef and beer, among others to the UK.

Namibia’s Statistics Agency (NSA) introduced a mobile statistics app this month. All national statistic data and labour market data are now available on smart phones. The NSA app can be downloaded via Google Play and App Store. 

The Windhoek municipality announced a five-year master plan. Mayor Muesee Kazapua said service delivery will be more efficient. Transport and safety is to improve. Soon the ‘My City’ app will be launched; free Wi-Fi hotspots will be introduced. 

Financial developments

Namibia’s High Court put the SME Bank under liquidation from 15 July to 15 September. The Bank of Namibia had filed the application. Two liquidators were appointed for the SME Bank, which was supposed to cater for micro-, small and medium (SME) enterprises. The bank had put some N$200 million (about 13 million Euros) into shady investments outside Namibia.

Angola


The Governor of Angola’s central bank, Valter-Filipe da Silva visited Namibia. He assured President Hage Geingob that the bank will honour the US$ 200 million currency swap debt. The last of the four remaining payments will come in 2018. Both central banks agreed on a currency exchange in 2015. It allowed Angolan nationals to exchange their kwanza into Namibia dollars at the Oshikango border town. Angola’s national bank bought back the accumulated kwanzas from Namibia in US dollars. Angolans exchanged far more money than expected. In addition, falling oil prices and a deteriorating world economy has affected Angola in the past three years and Angola is short of US dollars.  

Local woes

On the local front, Finance Minister Calle Schlettwein, announced that government in the meantime made several arrear payments to contractors. However, more arrears between N$2 billion and N$2.5 billion were found. Government will honour all these payments by the end of August. The Ministry dismissed seven officials due to misconduct. 

Tourism and Environment

Lufthansa’s subsidiary Eurowings landed for the first time in Namibia this month. Two weekly flights between Cologne-Bonn and Namibia’s international Hosea Kutako airport outside Windhoek were introduced. 

President Hage Geingob inaugurated the new building of the Namibia Tourism Board (NTB) in July. The government’s NTB markets Namibia internationally, registers tourism operators and collects tourism levies among others. President Geingob criticized the level of service delivery in Namibia. “It starts at the airports - visitors must feel welcome in Namibia. Service delivery all-round should improve. Let the hospitality sector not become the hostility sector,” Geingob cautioned. 

Fishing more costly


Recreational angling and fishing along Namibia’s coast has become more expensive. Permits increased from N$14 to N$1,500 (about 100 Euros) monthly in July. Tourism companies offering fishing trips raised concerns. After several days of confusion the Fisheries and Marine Resources Ministry cleared the air: Anglers can also take out daily permits at N$50.

Shiloh, the 11-year old daughter of famous US actors Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt again visited Namibia with her mother this month. Shiloh inaugurated the Shiloh Wildlife Sanctuary at the Na’ankuse Wildlife Resort. Shiloh Jolie-Pitt was born in Swakopmund in 2006. 

The tourism company Gondwana Collection, introduced e-bikes [bicycles] for tourists at its Kalahari Anib Lodge in southern Namibia. Tourists can now explore nature on selected routes with the battery-driven bicycles. Gondwana is the first lodge group in Namibia to introduce this tourism activity. Furthermore, the Gondwana Collection plans a new, ecologically constructed lodge in the Gondwana Namib Park, where the famous fossilized dunes can be viewed. The lodge will have 56 beds and receive an off-grid solar power system. 

Namibia’s Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) opened its new 5-room lodge for cheetah-viewing at its premises north of Otjiwarongo.

The Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) is drawing up a national solid waste management strategy to manage and recycle waste in Namibia. Implementation is to start in January 2018. The MET received some N$23 million (about 1.5 million Euros) from the US Government to strengthen its protection for rhinos and elephants. French artist Gé Pellini started sculpting a rhino from Namibian white marble this month. The public can watch the daily progress at the Franco-Namibian Cultural Centre (FNCC) in Windhoek. The life-sized sculpture will be auctioned off during a gala dinner in August to collect donations for Namibia’s anti-poaching efforts.

The national power utility NamPower, made power lines near Walvis Bay ‘sea bird proof’ to stop deadly collisions with wetland seabirds and the lines. The power lines were fitted with black horizontal and circular markers so that flamingos, pelicans and other migratory birds can recognise them and avoid flying into them. 

Land meetings


Regional consultations on land reform kicked off in preparation for the September land conference. The Mafwe community in the Zambezi Region wants people who reside in regions to be resettled there, not people form far away regions. Communities in the Hardap and Karas regions echoed these sentiments.

Brigitte Weidlich


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