Namibia - Country Commercial Guide
Market Opportunities
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Namibia imports almost all consumer goods and exports most of its primary resources, largely unprocessed.  In June, the Namibian government restricted the export of unprocessed lithium.  The country’s export base is narrow and dominated by minerals, beef, and fish, with minimal value addition.  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.  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 2020, Namibia became the first African country to export beef to the United States to test market demand for and the competitiveness of Namibian beef.  Due to supply challenges and limited demand, Namibia has only exported two shipments to date.  In 2021 Namibia began to export Windhoek Lager beer and encroacher bush acacia wood charcoal to the United States.  In May 2021, Namibia launched its AGOA Utilization Strategy, which provides a comprehensive plan on how Namibia can increase its exports to the United States under the AGOA Preference Program.  The strategy aims to add more products to export to the United States, including semi-precious stones, handicrafts, and indigenous natural beauty products. 

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, some of the world’s tallest sand dunes, and community-based nature conservancies. The global COVID-19 pandemic and resulting travel restrictions significantly disrupted Namibia’s tourism and hospitality sector, although the sector is beginning to return to pre-pandemic operations.

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 is committed to promoting renewable energy to complement conventional electricity.  The country aims to add 225 megawatts (MW) of new domestic power generation capacity by 2025 and has put in place the necessary structures and enabling environment for private sector participation.  Namibia also 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.  

Namibia also has bold ambitions to become a world leader in green hydrogen production.  Touted as the “fuel of the future,” green hydrogen will be essential in the world’s quest to move towards net-zero carbon emissions in the energy sector.  Plans for the industry reach beyond green hydrogen production to focus on revolutionizing Namibia’s (and the region’s) energy mix and agricultural and logistics sectors.  Namibia views its competitive advantage as “producing synthetic fuels,” such as ammonia, methanol, synfuel, and eventually green steel. A few green hydrogen pilot projects are well underway with more requests for proposals planned in the coming year(s). 

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 third-largest producer of uranium oxide.  Namibia also has rich deposits of critical minerals, including lithium and cobalt (used in clean energy technology).  Extraction of other critical rare earth elements, such as rubidium and cesium (used for spacecraft and medicine), is also taking place.  In 2022, Namibia uncovered the country’s largest-ever find of Rare Earth Elements (REEs) on a farm in north central Namibia.  With a proven ore body of 579 million tons and a cut-off grade of 0.02 to 1.00 percent of REE-bearing materials, prospects seem highly positive.  There are opportunities for companies that provide equipment and services to mining operators as well as companies able to provide value-addition to the raw minerals, a key priority for the Namibian government.  As part of the country’s firm stance on adding value, the Ministry of Mines and Energy announced in June 2023 that Namibia had decided to ban the export of unprocessed lithium.

In 2022, Namibia announced the discovery of sizeable quantities of offshore light oil (with associated gas) in the Orange Basin.  A government commissioned study determined finds in the field would make Namibia a top 15 global oil producer by 2035.  The Government of Namibia plans to co-develop a sustainable upstream oil and gas sector, increase exploration activities, improve production infrastructure development, and up-skill the workforce to meet the demands of the labor market.  As of mid-2023, Namibia’s oil discovery appears to be one of the most promising global prospects for hydrocarbon exploration.

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.  A subsidiary of Swiss firm MSC was selected in September 2022 to manage the new container terminal.  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 also 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.