Namibia imports almost all consumer goods and exports most of its primary resources, largely unprocessed. Opportunities exist to introduce new consumer goods and to expand manufacturing for both local and international markets.
Namibia is an eligible country under the African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA). AGOA allows for duty-free access to U.S. markets for more than 6,400 products. For information on AGOA, please consult: https://agoa.info/.
In 2016, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) added Namibia to the list of countries eligible to export meat and meat products to the United States. FSIS determined that Namibia’s laws, regulations, and inspection system are equivalent to the U.S. laws, regulations, and food safety system regarding meat and meat products. In March 2020, Namibia became the first African country to export beef to the United States. State-owned Meat Corporation of Namibia (Meatco) is approved to export 860 tons of high-quality chilled and frozen various beef cuts to the United States in 2020, rising to 5,000 tons by 2025. Namibia’s beef exports benefit from AGOA. Namibia also recently began to export Windhoek Lager beer and encroacher bush acacia wood charcoal briquettes to the United States.
Tourism is one of the country’s dominant industries and provides significant employment opportunities. Namibia is a nature-based tourism destination with spectacular scenery, including a wide variety of wildlife, the world’s oldest desert, the world’s tallest sand dunes, and community-based nature conservancies. The global COVID-19 pandemic and resulting travel restrictions have significantly disrupted Namibia’s tourism and hospitality sectors.
Namibia has historically imported more than half of its electricity from South Africa and other neighboring countries. As demand continues to outstrip supply in the region, Namibia is investing in new power generation and transmission capabilities. The national electricity regulator, the Electricity Control Board (ECB), has developed an independent power producer framework (IPP) and is keen to attract foreign investors that can service the domestic and/or regional market. In 2019, Namibia introduced a Modified Single Buyer policy, which allows large electricity customers to buy up to 30 percent of their electricity demand directly from an IPP rather than from the state-owned electricity utility, Nampower.
Namibia has great potential for renewable power generation, including from solar, wind, and biomass sources. The government has affirmed a commitment to promoting renewable energy to complement conventional electricity supplies and added more renewable energy generation sources to its grid. The country aims to add 220 megawatts (MW) of new domestic power generation capacity by 2023 and has put in place the necessary structures and enabling environment for private sector participation. Namibia has the potential to become energy self-sufficient via renewables and could become a net exporter of power to the rest of the southern African region. Power Africa, a U.S. Government-led partnership of over 170 public and private sector partners, is working with the governments of Namibia and Botswana to develop a mega solar power project. This mega solar project could add between 300-500 MW of solar capacity in Namibia by 2024 to meet expected domestic demand for energy and up to 3,000 MW of new solar capacity by 2030 to transform Namibia into a net energy exporter.
Namibia is also working on establishing a green hydrogen industry and expects to attract more than USD 6 billion in foreign direct investment (FDI) based on its green ammonia and green hydrogen production potential.
Namibia has a wealth of natural resources including uranium, diamonds, gold, zinc, lithium, cobalt, and copper, which are the primary sources of foreign exchange earnings. According to the World Nuclear Association, Namibia is the world’s fourth-largest producer of uranium oxide. There are opportunities for companies that provide equipment and services to mining operators.
Namibia’s principal port, Walvis Bay, is well positioned to service the entire southern African region. In 2019, an expansion was completed that increased the port’s capacity to 750,000 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) per year, up from 350,000 TEU. In addition to benefits from increased accessibility and efficiency, the port at Walvis Bay is closer to North America and Europe and less congested than rival South African ports at Durban and Cape Town. The port at Walvis Bay, compared to the two South African ports, is closer to markets in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Angola via rail and well-maintained hard-surface highways.
Namibia’s main commercial agriculture activities include fish and fish processing, livestock farming, and production of high value crops such as dates and table grapes. The Namibian government actively encourages processing of agricultural products in Namibia.
The government is seeking to attract foreign investors to participate in public-private partnerships (PPPs), particularly in the health, transportation, and housing sectors. A law to facilitate PPPs was passed in 2017; its implementation is ongoing.