Namibian Economics to the point - April 2019 - News - Gondwana Collection


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Namibian Economics to the point - April 2019

Avatar of inke inke - 30. April 2019 - Economics

Brigitte Weidlich

As the rainy season ended in April little rain was again recorded in most regions of Namibia, except in the eastern and south-eastern parts where large tracts were covered with hail after a storm, appearing like snow, only to melt away a few hours later. Parts of the Kunene Region received some rains in the last few days of April. Namibia’s Chamber of Mines turns 50 this year and will celebrate the golden jubilee at its annual mining conference and expo on 8 May, the organisation announced.

President Hage Geingob attended the annual Horasis economic conference in Cascais, Portugal, where he stated that the Namibia Dollar will remain linked to the South African Rand for the time being. The local tourism company Gondwana Collection Namibia announced that it acquired the popular Palmwag Lodge and Omarunga Lodge in the Kunene Region. Bookings for these two lodges via the Gondwana platform start from 1 May. Namibia’s inflation rate stood at 4.5 percent in March, up from 4.4 percent in February, the national statistics agency announced. The Bank of Namibia kept the repo rate at 6.75 percent in April and predicted an economic growth of 0.3 percent for the country this year and 1.3 percent in 2020.

President Geingob appoints advisory panel

A day before flying to Portugal for the international Horasis economic conference, President Hage Geingob appointed a ‘high level panel on the Namibian economy’ with 22 members - mostly local business people and financial experts - for 12 months. President Geingob announced that with this step the former presidential advisory council had been revamped and given a different mandate. The CEO of the Hospitality Association of Namibia (HAN), Gitta Paetzold, is also serving on the panel. The panel is chaired by Johannes Gawaxab, former long-serving managing director of the financial institution Old Mutual Africa. Geingob stated that the panel members are tasked to provide evidence-based analyses of the Namibian economy and make recommendations to the government “to revive and accelerate Namibia’s economic performance through private-sector-led investment”. The panel will have to advise on strategies “to position Namibia as a tourism and investment destination of choice” and to develop a “Brand Namibia” strategy. Later this year the government will hold an economic growth summit, Geingob announced at the same occasion, no date has been given yet.

President Hage Geingob attended the Horasis economic summit in Portugal in April. Photo by: Namibia Presidency

On 17 April, President Geingob also delivered his annual State of the Nation Address (SONA) in the National Assembly. He said that in the past twelve months, 34 investment projects worth N$2.65 billion (about 165 million Euros) were secured, creating 1,601 new jobs. Access to clean drinking water has been expanded covering 95 percent of all households countrywide. The Head of State also informed the members of parliament that 10,584 houses for lower income groups were constructed under the government housing programmes and a further 2,734 houses were then still under construction.

More private-sector investments

The supermarket chain Pick n Pay has expanded and opened another branch at Ondangwa in north-central Namibia this month. Pick n Pay is a subsidiary of the local Ohlthaver & List Group (O&L). The local technical and outdoor supplier Cymot has opened a new branch in Grootfontein and the building supply company Build it opened a branch in Omuthiya, north of Tsumeb.

Another O&L subsidiary, Hangana Seafood at Walvis Bay is expanding its fish factory with a new fish processing plant for N$300 million (about 18.7 million Euros). Construction has already begun and will be completed by September 2020, O&L executive chairman Sven Thieme informed Bernard Esau, Minister of Fisheries, during a site visit this month. This will increase Hangana’s processing capacity from 21,900 tonnes per annum with an additional 25,000 tonnes. “The new factory will also have a cold storage capacity of 2,500 tonnes”, Thieme added. He also serves on the ‘high level panel on the Namibian economy’.

Namibia’s only 100-percent Namibian-owned commercial bank, Bank Windhoek announced it would provide loans for houses constructed by the German company Polycare Research Technologies. Polycare developed bricks without cement and water, made from sand und a special resin, shortening the construction period to under four weeks. The company opened a factory outside Windhoek in January.

Brexit might also affect Namibia

A no-deal exit by Great Britain from the European Union might have negative effects on Namibia in the form of tariffs and import quotas, Tjekero Tweya said, the Minister of Trade and Industrialisation. He informed parliament in a ministerial statement at the end of April that negotiations with the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) and London were underway. “The no-deal exit plan of the UK would stipulate that 87 percent of Namibian goods would be duty-free, but some 469 tariff lines will be maintained to protect certain industries. In Namibia’s case it will be beef”, Tweya said. This translates into an annual loss of up to N$50 million (about 3.1 million Euros) for Namibia. Table grapes exported to the UK would not be affected by tariffs, Tweya said. The UK will leave the EU by 31 October and hopes to reach a Brexit-deal with Brussels by then.

Diamond production slightly lower

The De Beers diamond group published its production results for the first quarter of this year. In Namibia 483,000 carats were produced from January to March, 9% less than in Q1 of 2018. This was due to transitioning the Elisabeth mine south of Lüderitz to care and maintenance. In 2018, total diamond production by Namdeb and Debmarine, both co-owned by the Namibian government and De Beers, grew by 12%.

Diamond mining along Namibia’s coast. Photo by: Debmarine Namibia

Drought support for farmers

Agricultural organisations in the private sector have so far collected nearly N$5 million (about 310.000 Euros) worth of donations to buy animal fodder for farmers severely hit by the drought. The fodder – hay and lucerne – will be available at heavily subsidised prices to those in need. Game farms are also hit by the poor grazing due to lack of rain and are feeding antelopes and rhinos. Along many national roads, workers can be seen cutting grass bushels and selling the bundles to needy farmers as fodder. In the meantime, this month the Food & Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations signed off a five-year support programme for rural farmers in northern Namibia, worth N$140 million (about 8.7 million Euros). Under this framework, the resilience of subsistence farmers will be strengthened in the wake of climate change and natural disasters like droughts and floods.

The National Assembly is housed in the Tintenpalast (Ink Palace) in the heart of Windhoek and the budget debate is currently taking place. Photo by: National Assembly

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