Namibia - Country Commercial Guide
Distribution and Sales Channels

This section reviews several different factors in selecting and managing your distribution and sales in Namibia.

Last published date: 2021-10-21

Overview

The Investment Promotion Act reserves the right of the government to impose certain restrictions on foreign investors.  Restrictions can relate to land, natural resource rights, government contracts (tenders), transfer of ownership of investments above a certain size, and sectors reserved for Namibian businesses, as defined by the Minister of Industrialization and Trade.  For example, the government requires local participation before issuing licenses to exploit natural resources and has additional restrictions in the case of certain “strategic minerals.”

The Land Reform Act regulates the acquisition of agricultural land by foreign nationals.  No foreign national is allowed to acquire agricultural land without the prior consent of the Minister of Agriculture, Water, and Land Reform.

The government actively encourages partnerships with historically disadvantaged Namibians.  The Ministry of Labor, Industrial Relations, and Employment’s Equity Commission requires all firms to develop an affirmative action plan for management positions and to report annually on its implementation.  The Prime Minister continues to pursue finalization of a revised draft “New Equitable Economic Empowerment Framework” law, which aims to create conditions for more equitable income distribution.  After some debate, a previous iteration of the draft bill was withdrawn for possible revision and has not been re-introduced to Parliament.  Namibia’s Affirmative Action Act strives to create equal employment opportunities, improve conditions for the historically disadvantaged, and eliminate discrimination.  The commission facilitates training programs, provides technical and other assistance, and offers expert advice, information, and guidance on implementing affirmative action in the workplace.

In certain industries the government has employed techniques to increase Namibian participation.  In the fishing sector, companies pay lower quota fees if they operate Namibian-flagged vessels that are based in Namibia, with crews that are predominantly Namibian.  The Minister of Mines and Energy has made clear that mining companies must “indicate and show commitment to empower previously disadvantaged Namibians” in their applications for exploration and mining licenses.           

Distribution & Sales Channels

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.  Previously, Namibia had direct air links to Cape Town and Johannesburg in South Africa, as well as to Luanda, Angola; Lusaka, Zambia; Harare, Zimbabwe; Gaborone and Maun, Botswana; Lagos, Nigeria; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; and Accra, Ghana.  There are also normally 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:  http://www.airports.com.na/.

Some airlines such as South African Airways have domestic, and regional service in Namibia.  Lufthansa has international service to Frankfurt airport from Windhoek.  Namibia’s national airline, Air Namibia, was liquidated in 2021.  For more information on Air Namibia.: 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/.