This section reviews several different factors in selecting and managing your distribution and sales in Namibia.
South African firms tend to dominate the retail and wholesale space for commercial and industrial products. There are a small number of Namibian-owned firms.
Namibia has a well-established road infrastructure. According to the Namibia Roads Authority, the national road network consists of more than 45,000 kilometers, 14 percent of which is surfaced. The roadways link Namibia with neighboring countries South Africa, Botswana, Angola, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. The TransKalahari and TransCaprivi highways provide fast and convenient road links between Namibia’s port of Walvis Bay on the Atlantic Coast and landlocked neighboring countries. For more information on the road network, visit the Walvis Bay Corridor Group: http://www.wbcg.com.na/.
Namibia’s rail network runs from the South African border via Windhoek to the port of Walvis Bay and to the northern town of Ondangwa. The northern railway line from Ondangwa to Oshakati and Oshikango has been extended to the border with Angola but has not yet been met with rail from the Angolan side. Passenger and freight services are slow and often delayed. Namibia’s rail network is old and will need considerable investment to upgrade it.
Namibia liquidated its national carrier, Air Namibia, in 2021, and there is currently limited availability for direct regional flights. As of this publication, Namibia has direct air links to Cape Town and Johannesburg in South Africa and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It previously had links to Luanda, Angola; Lusaka, Zambia; Harare, Zimbabwe; Gaborone and Maun, Botswana; Lagos, Nigeria; and Accra, Ghana. There are also regular intercontinental flights from Namibia to Frankfurt, Germany; Doha, Qatar; and Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The global COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted air travel to Namibia, and airlines may not be operating in accordance with their regular schedules. Hosea Kutako International Airport is situated 48 km from Windhoek’s city center. Small aircraft can land at Eros Airport, located within Windhoek city limits. Walvis Bay Airport also has capability to support international flights. Charter planes are readily available. There are numerous private landing strips throughout the country. The Namibia Airports Company (NAC) is responsible for overseeing airport operations. For more information on NAC, please visit their website at: https://www.airports.com.na/.
Lufthansa has international service to Frankfurt airport from Windhoek. Namibia’s national airline, Air Namibia, was liquidated in 2021. Qatar Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, and KLM began service to Windhoek in 2016, expanding the number of international connections. There are no direct flights between Namibia and the United States.
The Namibian Ports Authority (Namport) operates the ports of Walvis Bay and Luderitz as commercial entities and ensures customer-oriented port services. The Namibian ports provide a relatively safe and economical cargo option to the country and to its southern African neighbors through the Walvis Bay corridor. Over the last few years, an increasing number of American shippers have shifted from other ports to Walvis Bay as a port of choice, citing supplies and workmanship as a factor. Some of the major international lines calling at Walvis Bay include Unicorn Lines, Maersk Line, Conti Lines, and Secil Sul Lines. For more information on Namibia’s ports visit: https://www.namport.com.na/.
Establishing an Office
To learn about establishing presence in Namibia, visit the U.S. Department of State Investment Climate Statement website.
Several general principles are important for effective management of intellectual property (IP) rights in Namibia. First, it is important to have an overall strategy to protect your IP. Second, IP may be protected differently in Namibia than in the United States. Third, rights must be registered and enforced in Namibia, under local laws. For example, your U.S. trademark and patent registrations will not protect you in Namibia. There is no such thing as an “international copyright” that will automatically protect an author’s writings throughout the entire world. Protection against unauthorized use in a particular country depends on the national laws of that country. However, most countries do offer copyright protection to foreign works in accordance with international agreements.
Patents registrations are generally based on a first-to-file (or first-to-invent, depending on the country) basis. Similarly, registering trademarks is based on a first-to-file (or first-to-use, depending on the country), so you should consider how to obtain patent and trademark protection before introducing your products or services to the Namibian market. It is vital that companies understand that intellectual property is primarily a private right and that the U.S. Government cannot enforce rights for private individuals in Namibia. It is the responsibility of the rights’ holders to register, protect, and enforce their rights where relevant, retaining their own counsel and advisors. Companies may wish to seek advice from local attorneys or IP consultants who are experts in Namibian law. The U.S. Commercial Service can provide a list of local lawyers upon request.
While the U.S. Government (USG) stands ready to assist, there is little we can do if the rights holders have not taken these fundamental steps necessary to securing and enforcing their IP in a timely fashion. Moreover, in many countries, rights holders who delay enforcing their rights on a mistaken belief that the USG can provide a political resolution to a legal problem may find that their rights have been eroded or abrogated due to legal doctrines such as statutes of limitations, laches, estoppel, or unreasonable delay in prosecuting a lawsuit. In no instance should U.S. government advice be seen as a substitute for the responsibility of a rights holder to promptly pursue its case.
It is also recommended that small and medium-size companies understand the importance of working with trade associations and organizations to support efforts to protect IP and stop counterfeiting.
There are a number of these organizations, both Namibian and U.S.-based. These include:
- The U.S. Chamber and local Chambers of Commerce
- National Association of Manufacturers (NAM)
- International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA)
- International Trademark Association (INTA)
- The Coalition Against Counterfeiting and Piracy
- International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition (IACC)
- Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA)
- Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO).
For more information, contact ITA’s Office of Intellectual Property Rights Director, Stevan Mitchell at Stevan.Mitchell@trade.gov.
Advertising support is readily available (i.e., print, radio, television, and internet services) in Namibia and is of good quality.
Namibian newspapers include the following:
- The Namibian -daily
- New Era -daily
- Die Republikein –daily Afrikaans language newspaper
- The Sun – daily
- The Namibian Economist - weekly
- The Windhoek Observer – weekly
- Confidente – weekly
- The Villager – weekly
- Allgemeine Zeitung - weekly German-language newspaper
Advertisers interested in wide, local language coverage and television advertising may wish to contact the Radio Service at the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation https://www.nbc.na/
A few reputable companies also offer various marketing and advertising services. These include:
Tel. +264-61-247 371
Vision Africa Research Services
Tel. +264-61- 244 660
Advantage Y & R
Tel. +264-61- 289 1600
Corporate Gifts and Promotions CC
Tel. +264-61- 259 916
INTV Productions (PTY) Ltd
Tel. +264-61- 225 665
One Africa Television
Telephone: +264 (61) 2891500
Facsimile: +264 (61) 259450
Telephone: +264 (61) 237300
Facsimile: +264 (61) 245027
When entering into joint ventures, it is advisable to consult an expert on legal documents. All businesses are required to obtain appropriate trading licenses from the local municipality. In addition, businesses are required to register with the Ministry of Finance for tax purposes.
For more information about joint ventures, contact:
Ms. Vivienne Katjiuongua
Ms. Nangula Uaandja
Ms. Charity Mwiya
International express mail delivery services are available in Namibia including FedEx and DHL.
It is always advisable to conduct due diligence on potential partners. A good partner is an important ally in protecting IP rights. Consider carefully, however, whether to permit your partner to register your IP rights on your behalf. Doing so may create a risk that your partner will list itself as the IP owner and fail to transfer the rights should the partnership end. Keep an eye on your cost structure and reduce the margins (and the incentive) of would-be bad actors. Projects and sales in Namibia require constant attention. Work with legal counsel familiar with Namibian laws to create a solid contract that includes non-compete clauses and confidentiality/non-disclosure provisions.