FACT SHEET ON NAMIBIA
Namibia is often described as Africa 's optimist. Namibia enjoys one of the continent's most pleasant, peaceful and politically stable environments but also an infrastructure to rival many developed countries.
Occupying an area of 824,268 square kilometres and home to around 1.8 million people, its population density at less than two people per square kilometre, is one of the lowest in the world.
A vast country, even by African standards, Namibia is situated on the south-western Atlantic coast of the sub-continent bordering Angola Zambia and for a short distance, Zimbabwe , in the north, South Africa in the south and Botswana in the east.
It derives its name from the Namib desert which extends along the entire 1,500 kilometre coastline and varies in width from 50 kilometres to 140 kilometres. Namibia 's central plateau, running from north to south, has an average altitude of between 1,000 and 2,000 metres, with rugged mountain ranges, sand-filled valleys and plains. To the east is the Kalahari Desert . In the north east are relatively high rainfall areas typified by perennial rivers and woodland savannah. Dramatic scenery, an abundance of wildlife and unique flora and fauna characterise the landscape.
Namibia is the most arid country in southern Africa , with a typical semi-desert climate. There are more than 300 days of sunshine a year and droughts are common. Average daytime temperatures in summer vary from 20 degrees Celcius to 34 degrees Celsius and average night-time temperatures in winter from zero degrees Celsius to 10 degrees Celsius.
The altitude in the centre of the country means that temperatures there are lower, while the cold Benguela current influences the coastal climate. Rain usually falls between October and May, especially from January to March. Average annual rainfall varies from less than 50 millimetres on the coast to 350 millimetres in the central region and 700 millimetres in the north cast.
Namibia has one of the most stable political environments in Africa . A multi-party system, it has a democratic constitution. Its president is voted in directly by the electorate for a five year term and supported by a prime minister and cabinet. Parliament comprises two houses; one is directly elected and the other indirectly by the country's regions.
It gained independence on 21 March 1990 after 106 years of foreign rule. Proclaimed a German protectorate in 1884 ; it was subsequently administered by South Africa from World War 1 under a 1920 League of Nations mandate. The SWAPO (South West Africa People's Organisation) liberation movement launched the final and decisive phase of struggle for freedom in 1966, successfully culminating 24 years later with the birth of an independent Namibia .
The country has an abundance of natural resources. Among these are a wide range of mineral deposits, including world class diamonds and uranium, plus copper, lead, zinc, gold, semi precious stones, industrial minerals, salt and fluorspar. Its rich fishing grounds, with their stocks of both demersal and pelagic species, place the country among the top 10 nations in the international fishing industry.
Such valuable resources mean that mining and fishing are two of the most important economic sectors, together with agriculture and tourism. Major crops include pearl millet, wheat, maize, groundnuts, beans and cotton, and there is a thriving red meat industry mostly exported to the EU market. Tourism is a rapidly growing sector, and is becoming a major earner of foreign exchange and generator of income for the nation.
Namibia offers excellent opportunities for investment across all these and other sectors. Most of the country's primary resources are exported, while almost all of its consumer goods are imported. Thus there is particular scope for investment in manufacturing for both local and international markets.
As one of the 14 member states of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Namibia has preferential trade links to the 190 million inhabitants of the sub-region, thanks to its excellent transport infrastructure
Namibia also belongs to the Southern Africa Customs Union (SACU), affording duty and quota free access to markets in Botswana , Lesotho , South Africa and Swaziland .
In addition, it is a signatory to the EU-ACP Trade and Development Agreement ( Cotonou ), giving duty free access to the European Union for a wide range of manufactured goods and agricultural products. Namibia also has duty and quota free access to the lucrative US market under the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). The Act has been described as one of the most liberal trade initiatives by the US and an important opportunity to foster development in Africa
The country is divided into 13 regions - Omusati, Oshana, Ohangwena and Oshikoto in the north, Kunene in the north-west, Kavango and Caprivi in the north-east, Erongo, Otjozondjupa, Omaheke, Khomas and Hardap in the centre, and Karas in the south.
Windhoek , the aministrative, legislative and judicial capital, is justifiably acknowledged as one of the cleanest cities anywhere on the continent. Situated at a height of some 1,650 metres above sea level, it has a vibrant, modern commercial centre and a sophisticated cosmopolitan atmosphere engendered by its attractive architecture and parks, shops and pavement cafes. Home to around a quarter of a million people from a variety of cultures, Windhoek is the business and financial heartland of Namibia with all of the supporting infrastructure that this requires.
Namibia 's second city is the Atlantic deepwater port of Walvis Bay , the hub of the country's industrial development and the most profitable harbour on the west coast of Africa . With a population of about 46,000, the town has increasing economic and strategic significance, thanks to the Walvis Bay Corridor.
Completed in 1998, this 'corridor' comprises a newly-constructed network of transport links which connects the landlocked countries of southern and central Africa to markets in Europe and the Americas . Walvis Bay, previously a South African enclave, was integrated into an independent Namibia in 1994.
Another major town is the port of Luderitz, also growing in importance and scope because of its role as the shore base for drilling operations at the Kudu Gas Field off the south coast and as the world export-base for high quality zinc from the US$ 454 million Skorpion mining project.
Other centres of regional economic significance are Gobabis, Grootfontein, Katima Mulilo, Keetmanshoop, Mariental, Okahandja, Ondangwa, Oshakati, Otjiwarongo, Rundu and Tsumeb.
The central and northern areas are the most populous. About one third of all inhabitants live in cities. Population growth, at an annual 2.6 per cent, is one of the highest in Africa .
The country is truly multi-cultural. It embraces a wide variety of peoples and communities ranging from hunter-gatherers, herders and farmers to urban populations of professionals, industrialists, skilled and semi-skilled workers and civil servants. Namibia 's rich cultural mix includes the Owambo, who are the largest group, the San or Bushmen, who are regarded as the country's earliest inhabitants, as well as the Kavango, Herero, Himba, Damara, Nama, Topnaars, Rehoboth Basters, Coloureds, Caprivians, Tswanas and Whites.
English is the official language, although many others are widely spoken, including Afrikaans and German.
The population is predominantly young, with around 46 per cent under 14 years of age and only five per cent over 65. The government is committed to the training and education of its people, and the literacy rate now stands at 80 per cent.
Namibia has a wealth of attractions and advantages for foreign-owned companies looking for business opportunities, as evidenced by the billions in inward investment which has poured in from all over the world since independence. Major investors include European Union nations, South Africa , Australia and the United States and Canada . There is increasing interest from Asia, including China and Malaysia .
Such benefits are complemented by an advantageous legislative and fiscal environment and a government keen to foster the engines of economic growth and prosperity.
Natural, hormone-free products characterise Namibia 's red meat industry, which is the mainstay of its agriculture sector. About 80 per cent of overall output is exported, much of it to Europe and South Africa . Namibia has several European Union-approved abattoirs, and overall capacity has been expanded to take advantage of the country's potential for beef, lamb and goat exports.
Investment opportunities exist in value-added local processing of livestock, as well as in leather and tallow products such as glue and gelatine. There is also scope for the processing of pelts and wool from karakul sheep, breeding angora goats and rabbits for mohair and breeding reptiles for skins, meat and venom for the pharmaceutical industry. Ostrich farming and processing is the country's fastest growing agricultural sub-sector.
The main crops are pearl millet, sorghum, maize, groundnuts and beans. Although irrigation potential is limited, fruits such as dates, mango, pawpaw, orange, avocado, melon and table grapes are produced for export. Namibia has a seasonal comparative advantage for some fruits, especially grapes, which it produces earlier than any other country in the world. There are also investment opportunities in other high-value crops, such as cotton, tobacco, dates, cucumbers, chillies, green peppers and tomatoes, and for plants such as devil's claw, jojoba and marula for the medicinal and cosmetics' industries. There is great potential for fruit and vegetable processing, including canning, blanching and freezing, juices and concentrates.
Namibia 's marine resources are among the richest in the world, largely due to the cold Benguela current which creates an especially beneficial eco-system, with year-round temperate conditions. The sparsely-populated coast and the related absence of heavy industry mean, too, that the fishing grounds are unpolluted - unlike those in so many, other parts of the globe.
As a result, hake, monkfish, orange roughy, cod, horse mackerel and many other species abound - a situation which has prompted Spanish, French and other foreign companies to invest in the sector. A significant player in the international fish industry, Namibia is among the top 10 countries in the world for the value of its catches. In addition to deep sea fish, oysters and mussels are also being farmed.
Some 600,000 tonnes of fish and shellfish are landed annually for processing onshore. Namibia is now keen to develop the small but thriving mariculture sector, to reap maximum benefit from the pristine marine and fresh waters, along its 1,500 kilometre long coastline and numerous perennial rivers, lakes and dams.
Raft culture of oysters is proving particularly successful. Marine species, both indigenous and non-indigenous, offering development potential include: kob, blacktail, galjoen, turbot, cod, halibut and crustaceans, molluscs and seaweed. Excellent freshwater culture development potential exists in the commercial rearing of various species of tilapia, as well as catfish and tigerfish.
The mining industry is the backbone of the Namibian economy as a primary generator of exports and foreign exchange.
Namibia has extensive mineral deposits. Its diamonds and uranium are world-class. There are also valuable occurrences of gold, copper, lead, zinc and other base metals, a wide variety of semi-precious stones and several types of dimension stone, as well as salt and fluorspar.
Almost all of the country's mining output is exported. Diamonds, which have been mined in Namibia for almost 100 years, retain their dominance, thanks to recent substantial investments and growth in off-shore mining in which Namibia is considered a world-leader. There are further excellent prospects with the opening up for prospecting of the Sperrgebiet, or Forbidden Territory , in the south-west of Namibia which effectively has been closed to exploration since the early 1900s.
The government has created a modern and enabling legislative, fiscal and institutional environment in which exploration and mining companies can operate. It regulates the allocation of licences for prospecting and mining activities. However, it is also committed to addressing the environmental implications of such operations, and has an appropriate strategy in place.
One of the most recent significant foreign investments is by Anglo American plc in the South West of Namibia where the Skorpion zinc mine and refinery is due to produce around 150,000 tonnes of pure zinc metal per year.
Another major investment has been made by a wholly owned Namibian company, Ongopolo, which has re-opened one of the country's largest copper producers.
Namibia continues to invite new investment in exploration and development of new mines. The Geological Survey of Namibia (website: www.mme.gov.na or www.gsn.gov.na ) provides detailed information on prospects. There are also offshore and onshore oil and gas prospects for which the government invites investors. The geological report on the mineral wealth of Namibia , prepared by the Ministry of Mines & Energy, has been sent by this Mission to the major Chambers of Commerce in India .
Namibia imports almost all of its consumer goods while most of its primary resources are exported, largely unprocessed. The country therefore offers exceptional scope for manufacturing investment, either to serve the local market as import substitutes or to add value to natural resources.
While the home market is relatively small, Namibia is ideally placed as the entry point for other countries in the SADC region, thanks to its excellent transport and communications' infrastructure, and especially the Walvis Bay and the Trans-Kalahari corridors.The country has a growing textiles' industry and also specialises in leather and hide processing. There are existing manufacturing plants for automotive components, food and beverage processing, pharmaceuticals, furniture, packaging materials and other products, as well as workshops for jewellery and decorative items.
Namibia 's spectacular scenery and wildlife, its excellent infrastructure, warm climate and friendly atmosphere give it all the necessary ingredients for a burgeoning tourist industry. Nature reserves, game parks and resorts make up about 15 per cent of the total land area. Particular attractions include theEtosha National Park, one of the largest game reserves in Africa which is home to a wide variety of animals and birds, including several endangered species; the Namib-Naukluft Park, a vast wilderness and the fourth largest nature conservation area in the world; the Skeleton Coast National Park; and the Fish River Canyon, the world's largest after the Grand Canyon.
Game parks and tourist facilities are owned and managed by both the government and the private sector. There has been significant investment in tourist accommodation in the last 10 years to meet the demands of the growing number of visitors. Hotels, pensions, guest farms, lodges and rest camps are generally of a high standard. As the tourism industry is based on the country's natural resources, developments are closely linked to conservation and eco-tourism. Sporting, wild-game hunting and 'adventure' tourism is also catered for. However, the government recognises the need to maintain a careful balance between developing the sector and protecting the environmental and cultural base which makes Namibia so attractive as a holiday destination.
Namibia 's strategy is to target high value, low volume tourism focusing its promotional efforts on the high-spending countries of Western Europe . The country is already a popular destination for visitors from Germany , the United Kingdom , France , Italy and Scandinavia . Other countries in the Americas , Far East and Australasia are also being targeted. Tourists from other parts of Africa, especially South Africa , are frequent visitors.
Namibia is also fast becoming a popular conference destination. In Windhoek there are support systems able to provide facilities for international conferences for up to 2,000 delegates.
Transport and Communications
Namibia has an infrastructure of a standard which would agreeably surprise all those who are unfamiliar with the country and its advantages. There is continuous and growing investment in those facilities which are regarded the lifeblood of a vibrant, modern and developing economy.
International air connections for both passengers and freight are available at Windhoek's Hosea Kutako International Airport . Direct destinations include the strategic regional hub of Johannesburg , and the European cities of London and Frankfurt . Air Namibia is the national carrier; other international airlines operating here are South African Airways, British Airways/Comair, T.A.A.G and LTU.
There are also direct flights between Windhoek and Luanda , Lusaka , Harare , Livingstone and Cape Town , as well as domestic flights to local destinations from the city's Eros Airport .
Walvis Bay International Airport has regular flights to Cape Town , Johannesburg and Windhoek , and Keemanshoop Airport also operates an international service.
All Namibia 's main towns and tourist resorts have airports, landing strips and/or heliports
Walvis Bay, with its world-class standard of cargo handling and sheltered deepwater harbour, is poised to become the most important port on Africa's west coast and a regional container hub for southern Africa . The completion in 2000 of the deepening process and the building of a new enlarged container terminal able to handle vessels with a capacity of some 2200 to 2400 TEUs puts the port on a par with Cape Town and Durban .
Container vessels from Europe can save three days' journey time by loading/unloading in Walvis Bay, rather than Cape Town, while cargoes for central and southern Africa from elsewhere in the Atlantic region can gain up to seven days by using Walvis Bay and going further overland.
There are dedicated facilities for a range of commodities, including containerised cargo, refrigerated produce, break-bulk, dry bulks and petroleum products. The port currently handles around 2.5 million tonnes of cargo annually, with an average turnaround time of about 12-18 hours for container vessels. Products include foodstuffs, marble blocks, lead and copper ingots and an annual 500,000 tonnes of salt. As well as excellent logistical support services, there is a thriving ship repair and marine engineering industry at Walvis Bay .
Luderitz, although traditionally a fishing port, has been upgraded, with a new cargo and container quay completed in 2000. Cargo volumes have increased significantly as a result of the port's ability to handle larger vessels and consignments of freight. The port is strategically, located to cater for southern Namibia and the Northern Cape . An important base for fishing fleets, it is now also used by the offshore diamond and mining industry.
Both Walvis Bay and Luderitz are administered by the Namibian Ports Authority (NamPort), a state-owned organisation established in 1994, part of whose role is to ensure the smooth operation of cross-border trade. The ports enjoy good industrial relations, with well-motivated workforce, and are able to offer a high standard of stevedoring to complement their modern dockside equipment.
Namibia has a well-developed road network covering more than 40,000 kilometres and providing access to the majority of towns, as well as tourist resorts and nature reserves. The primary routes are tarred and are of developed world standards.
The Trans-Caprivi Highway provides an all-weather road link between Walvis Bay and Angola , Botswana , Zambia , Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo: southern Angola can only be accessed from Namibia . The Trans-Kalahari Highway links Walvis Bay with South Africa 's Gauteng industrial heartland via Botswana . Previously this region used Durban as its natural gateway. The highway also is connected to the Maputo Corridor on Africa 's east coast, thus providing a transport link across the entire breadth of the continent.
A network of railways covering 2,382 kilometres connects Walvis Bay, and Luderitz with key destinations in Namibia and South Africa . Much of the containerised traffic at Walvis Bay goes by rail, and the port has its own marshalling yard for maximum operational efficiency. Thousands of tonnes of bulk minerals from mines in South Africa and Namibia are transported directly to the quayside by rail for export.
The full range of business support services is available in Namibia , including banking and finance, insurance, stock-broking, accountancy, general business consultancy, advertising and marketing agencies and conference facilities.
Namibia has a well-established banking system. The Bank of Namibia is responsible for issuing currency and is the foreign exchange authority, lender of last resort to banking institutions, banker to the government and the commercial banks and the supervisory authority on financial institutions and monetary matters. Commercial banks operate through a nationwide network of branches and offer a comprehensive range of banking services, including current account and overdraft facilities, term deposits, discounting of bills, foreign exchange and a variety of loan products. These are Bank Windhoek Ltd., the Commercial Bank of Namibia Ltd., First National Bank of Namibia, Standard Bank Namibia Ltd. and NIB. Most also provide specialised merchant banking facilities. International services are available through inter-bank arrangements. Electronic banking and teller services are available in all major centres.
The Namibian Dollar (N$) is divided into 100 cents. It is linked to and is at par with the South African Rand (R), which is also legal tender in Namibia . The Namibia Stock Exchange is Africa 's second largest in terms of total market capitalisation and among the continent's most technically advanced bourses.
Support for the Investor
The Namibian government is committed to the attraction of foreign direct investment and regards investment promotion as one of its priority activities.
Responsibility for the creation of policies and strategies which are conducive to investment lies with the Ministry of Trade and Industry. Its remit also includes trade promotion, the development of small and medium-sized enterprises and providing attractive incentive packages.
Namibia 's official investment promotion agency and first port-of-call for investors is the Namibia Investment Centre (NIC). Created under the Foreign Investment Act of 1990, the NIC's role is to attract, encourage and facilitate foreign investment.
The NIC offers a wide variety of services to the existing and potential investor, including provision of information on incentives, investment opportunities and the country's regulatory regime. It works closely with key ministries as well as service and regulatory bodies and can therefore help to minimise any bureaucratic obstacles to progress. The NIC can also provide dedicated teams or individuals from among its staff to smooth the investor's path.
The NIC works in tandem with the Offshore Development Company (ODC), the flagship of Namibia 's tax free export processing zone regime. Established as a private company with minority government shareholding, the ODC monitors, regulates and promotes the EPZ regime as a vehicle for export-led industrialisation of the economy and as an opportunity for domestic and foreign investors to make money in Africa 's preferred tax haven.
It is responsible for running the EPZ secretariat which handles investors applications for EPZ status. A response is guaranteed in a maximum of one month from submission. Part of its jurisdiction is the provisionof industrial or factory space for investors at economical rates.
Export Processing Zones
Namibia offers amongst the most attractive fiscal incentives in Africa via its EPZ regime. This provides a tax haven for manufacturers, importers and exporters, as well as a wide range of concessions and benefits.
Companies granted EPZ status can set up operation anywhere in Namibia . In addition, there are specially developed industrial parks where they can enjoy the same advantages. These are at Walvis Bay, where the estate is run by an EPZ management company; at Oshikango, near the Angolan border; and at Katima Mulilo, at the eastern end of the Caprivi Strip close to Victoria Falls.
There are no restrictions on industrial sector. Any form of manufacturing or value-added process is eligible, provided it is focused on exports outside the SACU region ( Namibia , Botswana , South Africa , Lesotho and Swaziland ). Sales to local markets of up to 30 per cent of production may be allowed on request. A company which exports just some of its production can also apply for EFZ status by separating its export activities into a separate company.
Warehousing and packaging companies, other than those involved in fish and meat processing, can also apply for EPZ status.
The Ministry of Trade and Industry in consultation with the Ministry of Finance and the Governor of the Bank of Namibia is responsible for granting EPZ status, acting on the recommendation of the Offshore Development Company or EPZ management company.
Market survey Reports
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