Political stability and sound economic management have helped anchor economic growth and poverty reduction in Namibia. Growth has not been accompanied by job creation, however, and extreme social and economic inequities inherited from apartheid persist despite generous spending on social programs. The country is also vulnerable to short- and long-term environmental shocks as all major sources of growth depend heavily on Namibia’s fragile ecosystem.

Namibia has enjoyed a sustained period of strong growth. Between 2010 and 2014, the economy grew at an average annual rate of 5.6% per annum. Growth was driven by massive investment in extractive projects, strong export prices, rapid private credit growth, and a program of deficit-financed fiscal stimulus.

Over the longer-term, Namibia faces important challenges in diversifying the economy and broadening economic opportunities. The economy remains heavily dependent on mining, while limited demand for unskilled labor leads to concentration of labor in unproductive subsistence agriculture. Policy priorities for a more inclusive economy include: i) improving access to and quality of secondary, tertiary, and vocational education; and ii) addressing labor market rigidities.

Development Challenges

Relatively strong economic growth has not been sufficient to deal with poverty, inequality, and unemployment. Using the national poverty line of N$ 377.96, the poor Namibian comprised 28.7% in 2009/10, following a 9.0 percentage point fall from 37.7%in 2003/04. The reduction was driven by gains in in rural areas. Using the international poverty lines, 19.7% of the population lived on less than $1.90 a day in 2015 compared to 21.9% in 2010. In 2015, 42.9% lived below the $3.10 per day poverty line, compared to 45.1% in 2010. Namibia remains one of the most unequal countries in the world, with a Gini coefficient of 0.597.

Electricity demand has been growing rapidly, pushed by urbanization and the mining sector. Long-term agreements to purchase electricity at favorable rates are expiring, and there is no significant new generation capacity since independence. Wholesale electricity prices have risen by double-digit rates in each of the past several years.

All major production sectors—mining, tourism, livestock and meat production, and fisheries—are vulnerable to external economic and ecological shocks. Foreign demand in each industry is cyclical, seasonal, or unpredictable, with downstream effects for employment, income, and government revenue. All face risks from climate change and/or other countries’ policies to address climate change.  

Last Updated: Oct 17, 2016

The WBG’s first Country Partnership Strategy (CPS) 2013-2017 guides activities by the WBG, International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA). The two pillars of the CPS are: enhancing state capacity and strengthening the private sector. The Bank supports Namibia through a program of analytical and advisory services. Priorities for technical cooperation include economic management, statistics and monitoring and evaluation capacity, natural resource management, and business regulations. IFC and MIGA are seeking opportunities to increase investment in infrastructure.

In August 2015, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) signed a ZAR300 million investment in Trustco, a financial services group, to support the group’s education lending and micro-insurance offerings. In past years, IFC has invested in a fisheries project (Pescanova), a hotel in northern Namibia, and an equity investment in the country’s first indigenous life insurance company (Namibia Life). IFC is working with the Ministry of Trade and Industry to improve business regulations and with the Namibia Business Innovation Center to support mobile ICT applications development through its infoDev program.

Namibia’s Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) membership makes direct foreign investment into the country eligible for MIGA’s risk insurance and credit enhancement products. Also, Namibian firms investing in other developing countries are also receiving coverage from MIGA for their investments in the region. MIGA is currently investigating the potential to support investments in public infrastructure.

Last Updated: Oct 17, 2016

The Namibian Coast Conservation and Management Project has brought Namibia’s entire 1,570 km coastline under protection and has shepherded the development of the Coastal Management Policy (closed in 2016). International Finance Corporation (IFC) investments in the fishing industry have contributed to generating jobs and export revenue. Its investment in what is now the Protea Hotel in Ondangwa helped raise the quality of hospitality services in an underserved segment of the Namibian market.

Technical support to the new Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA) has enabled the new institution to increase the frequency, quality, and dissemination of official statistics. In 2013, the WBG helped NSA document and distribute public-use micro-data from the latest census, labor force survey, and all household income and expenditure surveys conducted since independence.

Last Updated: Oct 17, 2016

The World Bank Group (WBG)

Namibia became a member of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), International Finance Corporation (IFC), and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) in 1990.

Last Updated: Oct 17, 2016


Namibia: Commitments by Fiscal Year (in millions of dollars)*

*Amounts include IBRD and IDA commitments