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Namibian economics to the point – August 2018

Avatar of inke inke - 31. août 2018 - Economics


Brigitte Weidlich

Namibia hosted the annual summit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) this month. Most Heads of State of the 16 member-states attended and deliberated on regional trade and industrialisation among others. Namibia and Germany have signed a new N$2 billion (about 135 million Euros) cooperation agreement. Petrol and diesel prices increased by 25 cents a litre. The Director-General of the international Labour Organisation, Guy Riders visited Namibia. President Hage Geingob travelled to Indonesia for a state visit at the end of August. From there he travelled to China to attend the summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) on 1 September in Beijing. 

Summit of SADC states in Windhoek  

The annual ordinary summit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) took place in mid-August in Windhoek. Most heads of government of the 16 member-states attended, including Zimbabwe’s new President Emmerson Mnangagwa. The main topics discussed on the economic front were increased regional integration and improved trade among the member states. It was also agreed to establish a regional gas sector committee to accelerate the development of various onshore and offshore gas fields in the SADC Regions. 

Namibia's President Hage Geingob (centre) poses with other heads of state for a group photo during the 38th SADC Summit in Windhoek in August 2018. Photo by: Southern Times, Windhoek

More slaughter cattle needed for export

Namibia’s largest meat producing company, Meatco, will soon export premium meat to Greene King, a British company founded in 1799 that owns approximately 3,000 various outlets in the United Kingdom. 

Greene King, a leading pub retailer and brewer, owns hotels, pubs and restaurants spread across the UK and will soon offer Meatco’s ‘Nature Reserve’ beef brand. 

While this is good news, fewer cattle are processed at Meatco’s factory in Windhoek. Only 81,984 heads of cattle were slaughtered at Meatco abattoirs during the company’s past financial year. In comparison, 315,198 live cattle on the hoof were exported during the 2017 calendar year. In 2016, only 164,220 live cattle were exported. On the positive side, an abattoir in Mariental, regained its export slaughtering status in August for sheep. The Brukkaros abattoir in Keetmanshoop had recently stopped slaughtering sheep due to low throughput. Farmers were dissatisfied with low prices. The Framers Meat Market (FMM) abattoir in Mariental can slaughter up to 1,000 sheep per day. 

Germany and Namibia sign new co-op agreement

The cooperation between Namibia and Germany was enhanced with a new N$2 billion (about 135 million Euros) agreement, which was signed on 3 August. Over the next two years the German development agency Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) provide an N$1.1 billion grant. The Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW) makes an interest-subsidised loan of about N$900 million available. Funded projects include support for Namibia’s anti-poaching initiatives, communal land development programmes, a business advisory programme and the construction of a new vocational training centre in Gobabis. 

“The agreement will fund projects aimed at poverty reduction, improving the sustainable use of natural resources, and foster economic development”, said Planning Minister Obeth Kandjoze.

News from the financial sector

Namibia’s state bank kept its repo rate at 6.75 percent. Announcing the decision on 15 August, the Governor of the Bank of Namibia (BoN), Iipumbu Shiimi said, retaining the repo rate at the current level would support Namibia’s subdued economic growth. 

The country’s inflation rate shot up to 4.5 percent in July, the national Statistics Agency (NSA) announced this month. Inflation stood at 4.0 percent in June. Increased fuel, water and electricity tariffs pushed up inflation in July. 

A new study has found that approximately 22 percent of eligible Namibian adults are still “unbanked” - they do not have access to financial services. This particularly affects people living in remote and rural areas. The third Namibia Financial Inclusion Survey (NFIS) was conducted in November 2017 together with the, NSA, BoN and South Africa’s FinMark Trust. While 78 percent of eligible Namibians are now financially included, 67.7 percent of them are served by commercial banks in Namibia and 23.9 percent make use of informal financial mechanisms. The target is 100 percent inclusion over the next few years. The first survey of this kind was conducted in 2007, which found that 51 percent adults had no access to financial services. The second survey in 2011 showed an improvement with 31 percent not included. 

Gobabis solar plant adds 10MW to grid

Two new solar power plants outside Gobabis, Ejuva 1 and 2 will jointly add ten megawatt (MW) to Namibia’s energy supply. South African company Consolidated Infrastructure Group SA provided N$250 million for the project. Local companies OKA Capital and BPI Energy Solutions own 34 percent of the equity, while developer CIG SA owns 49 percent. The asset managing company Mergence Unlisted Investment Managers (Namibia) owns 17 percent on behalf of its clients. The two plants were commissioned at the end of August.

Fitch rating remains at BB+

The international rating agency Fitch announced its decision to keep Namibia’s long-term foreign currency credit rating at sub-investment grade and kept its outlook at stable. Fitch downgraded Namibia’s sovereign credit rating in November 2017 from BBB- to BB+ or junk status. They noted in a statement in August that it took into consideration the Namibian government’s commitment to stabilise debt levels and pursuance of fiscal reforms, as well as signs of a modest economic recovery. Fitch however cut its growth forecast for Namibia’s economy from previously 2.0 percent to 0.8% for 2018 and to 1.8% for 2019 (previously 3.0%).

NTA has N$1.4bn for training 

The Namibian Training Authority (NTA) has since 2014 collected altogether N$1.4 billion in training levies from over 2.500 companies in Namibia. The levy system was introduced four years ago. Companies with a payroll of over N$1 billion per annum must since then pay one percent of their payroll value to the NTA on a monthly basis. Companies which train their own staff can claim back up to fifty percent of the training levy once proof is provided. The NTA has in the past four years spent N$288 million to fund key priority vocational training areas. New vocational training centres are under construction.

Windhoek residents must save more water

The municipality of Windhoek has informed its residents that they must continue saving water since dam levels are relatively low, despite a better rainy season than 2017. The three dams supplying Windhoek only received some 30 percent of the average water inflow this year. While praising the inhabitants for having continued saving five percent water throughout, this must increase to ten percent of water usage. Further measures since 1 August include restriction of watering of gardens, the washing of cars at home (only with a bucket, not with hosepipes), swimming pools must be covered are mandatory and private pools may not be filled.

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