Economy of Namibia
KEY FACTS 2015
GNI: US$12.7 billion
GNI p.c.: US$5,190
GDP growth: 5.3% p.a. 2011–15
Inflation: 3.4% p.a. 2011–15
Namibia’s economy is driven by mining and fish processing. Since independence in 1990, exports of diamonds, uranium, zinc and fish products have grown strongly. Most people in rural areas of this vast country, however, remain largely unaffected by these activities. Government policy is to raise per capita income, develop the private sector and encourage diversification into manufacturing activities, such as clothing and textiles, and eco-tourism. It is also committed to restraining growth in public spending and controlling inflation.
Having fallen short of the national development plan target of five per cent p.a. in the latter half of the 1990s and early 2000s – due to environmental factors such as drought and the finite stocks of fish – growth picked up from 2002 on account of increased diamond production, the opening of a new zinc mine and refinery, and increased textiles output. It averaged 5.7 per cent p.a. from 2004–08. But in the face of the world economic downturn and consequent falls in demand for Namibia’s minerals, the economy stalled in the latter part of 2008, contracted in 2009 (–1.1 per cent), but recovered in 2010 (6.3 per cent), continuing with growth of four to six per cent p.a. 2011–15.
The sector is the largest source of export earnings. Namibia has great mineral wealth, including diamonds, uranium, copper, zinc, gold, silver, phosphate and oil. Zinc production rose rapidly from the mid-1990s. Onshore reserves of diamonds are becoming depleted, but offshore output has risen quickly, helped by new mining technology. Since the start of production in the Husab uranium mine in 2014, Namibia has become one the world’s largest producers of uranium. Large offshore phosphate deposits have been discovered near Walvis Bay. Offshore oil and gas exploration is also under way.