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.

With a preliminary estimate of gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 4.5% in 2014, down from 5.1–5.2 recorded in recent years, the economy continues to grow faster than the 4.3% long-term trend. Low interest rates, fiscal stimulus, and unusually high foreign direct investment (FDI) in mining have resulted in a construction boom, fast household consumption growth, and solid growth in tradable services. Inflation remains low at 3.3% (year on year) in July 2015, a decline from the recent peak of 6.1% in June 2014 that was driven largely by falling world oil prices. However, unemployment remains stubbornly high, estimated at 28%, essentially where it has stood since the country’s independence in 1990.

Namibia has made significant progress in addressing many development challenges. Access to basic education, primary health care services, and safe water is high and growing. Gender equality is enshrined in law and supported by government policies.

Namibia has been a leader in the area of natural resource conservation, with 44% of total land under conservation in 2012, up from 15% in 1990, and the country’s entire 1,570 km coastline has protected status. Namibia maintains social safety net programs for its most vulnerable citizens, including the elderly, the disabled, orphans and war veterans, as well as national maternity and sick leave, and medical benefit programs to workers.

The ruling Southwest Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO) won the November 2014 general election, increasing the number of women in the National Assembly from 22% to 41%. President Geingob appointed Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, former Minister of Finance, as the first female Prime Minister.

Development Challenges

Namibia’s economic growth, prudent macroeconomic policies, and generous social programs have not generated the jobs needed to overcome the inequitable distributions of income and assets or raise living standards in rural areas and among the urban poor. At the top of the government’s agenda is bringing down the very high unemployment rate.

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: Sep 23, 2015

World Bank Group (WBG) Cooperation

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. 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.

International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD): The first IBRD loan for Namibia, a $7.5 million Education Development Policy Loan (DPL), was approved in May 2007. A second DPL in the same amount was approved in November 2008, signed in September 2010. Both loans have been disbursed and were repaid in full by April 2011. The DPLs supported the Education and Training Sector Improvement Program (ETSIP), the government’s 15-year strategy to improve education sector outcomes.

Namibia was awarded two Global Environment Facility (GEF) grants through the WBG, of which one is active. A $6.8 million grant to support the government’s Namibian Coast Conservation and Management Project (NACOMA) was approved in 2005 and is scheduled to close in December 2015. The Ministry of Environment and Tourism is requesting funds from GEF5 for additional work under this project. The $7.1 million Integrated Community-Based Ecosystem Management Project (ICEMA) was approved in 2004 and closed in April 2011.

The WBG has mobilized external trust funds to support the government in addressing long-term strategic priorities on energy investments and climate change, and responding to disasters through a post-flood disaster needs assessment, and building critical public sector capacities in statistics, performance management monitoring and evaluation, and crisis management in the financial sector.

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.

The IFC aims to support the fourth National Development Plan’s (NDP4) goals of faster growth, more employment and greater income equality through both its investment and advisory services. Investment priorities include infrastructure, labor-intensive sectors such as tourism and agribusiness, health and education, and financial services. IFC advisory services will focus on helping Namibia improve the investment climate and on supporting public-private partnerships to encourage private investment in public infrastructure.

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: Sep 23, 2015

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 (launched in 2013). 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: Sep 23, 2015

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: Sep 23, 2015


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

*Amounts include IBRD and IDA commitments