Namibia enjoys a high level of economic stability. In 2013, Bloomberg named Namibia the top emerging market economy in Africa, and it came in as 13th best in the world. In recent years, the government has been taking measures to attract foreign investment, and the World Bank ranked it 101st out of 189 countries in ease of doing business. Its per capita income — over 6,000 USD — is about fifteen times that of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the poorest African country.
Despite this, Namibia suffers from one of the highest rates of income inequality in the world. This is partly due to the fact that about half of the people working in Namibia do not participate in the formal market economy and instead live in a rural, cashless economy fueled by subsistence agriculture. Official unemployment figures vary, ranging from 25% to 50% of the population, depending on if one includes the large percentage of the population who rely on subsistence agriculture or not.
Currently, there are more than 200,000 skilled laborers working in Namibia in addition to a small, well-trained professional and managerial class. The government aims to keep increasing this number in the years to come. It is also pursuing measures to create more jobs and bring more Namibians into the economic mainstream.
Namibia’s tertiary sector makes up the largest part of its formal market economy, accounting for a large percentage of the country’s GDP and labor force, 64% and 54% respectively. Tourism is a major part of the services sector, providing jobs for 18% of those working in Namibia’s formal sector.
Namibia attracts thousands of tourists each year who visit popular tourist destinations such as the Caprivi Strip, Fish River Canyon, Sossusvlei Nature Reserve, Etosha Pan, and Ai-Ais Hot Springs. Extreme sports and game hunting are also popular. One of the fastest-growing areas of the economy is the opening up of new wildlife conservancies, which provides jobs for people living in Namibia’s rural areas.
Namibia’s industrial sector provides jobs for 22.4% of the people working in Namibia and accounts for 11.5% of the country’s GDP. Mining is Namibia’s most important industrial activity. Diamonds are its most lucrative export, although the onshore supply is dwindling, and the costs of mining diamonds offshore is cutting into profits. Namibia is the world’s fifth-largest producer of uranium. Mining operations also extract zinc, gold, and other minerals from Namibian soil.
Other industrial activities mostly have to do with processing Namibian agricultural products, and include fish processing, meatpacking, as well as the manufacture of dairy products, pasta, and beverages.
Although, as mentioned above, about half of the population depends on subsistence agriculture, the primary sector only makes up about 7.7% of the formal market sector’s GDP and 16.3% of the labor force. At the moment, about 75% of Namibia’s arable land (which only makes up about 1% of its total land area in the first place) is owned by descendants of white settlers in Namibia.
The government is currently pursuing a land reform process with plans to resettle landless native black Namibians. Namibia’s main agricultural products are millet, sorghum, peanuts, grapes, livestock, and fish. The country’s fishing operations are concentrated at Walvis Bay, as it is the country’s only sizeable natural harbor.
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