Overview

  • Though largely desert and ranchland, Namibia’s natural mineral riches and tiny population of about 2.5 million (2016) have made it an upper-middle-income country. But although political stability and sound economic management have helped it anchor poverty reduction, this has not yet been accompanied by job creation, and extreme socio-economic inequalities inherited from the years it was run as under an apartheid system still persist, despite generous public spending on social programs.

    Namibia has a long, inhospitable coastline along the South Atlantic, and borders South Africa, Botswana, and Angola.

    The Namibian economy slowed substantially in 2016, registering only modest growth of 1.2%, which contrasts with average, annual gains of more than 5% in the preceding five years. The slowdown was noticed across all productive sectors, tied to consistently low mineral prices, regional drought, and a process of fiscal consolidation. Subdued growth in the global economy has also affected mining in Namibia, delaying the startup of the already-completed Husab uranium mine. This has yielded significant negative spillovers to many sectors of the economy, including external trade and public sector finance.

    The deterioration of economic activity and lower revenues, mostly from mining and the Southern African Customs Union (SACU), led to temporary problems in terms of financing the budget in the first half of FY2016/17. Given the fact that private financial institutions had little appetite for government securities, state-owned pension funds were the largest bidders at auctions during the second and third quarters of 2016. Consequently, there was little to no space for further fiscal expansion, and a process of fiscal consolidation began with the mid-year budget review of October 2016.

    In the medium-term, economic activity is expected to slowly recover. Annual GDP growth may reach 3% in 2017 and about 4 % thereafter. Near-term recovery will be driven by the (hoped for) opening of operations at the Husab uranium mine in 2017. Services are expected to contribute significantly, too, as neighboring Angola’s economy gradually picks up. A limited, additional boost should stem from post-drought recovery in agricultural production. Fiscal consolidation will continue through FY2019/20, with the budget deficit projected to narrow to less than 2% GDP.

    Last Updated: Oct 13, 2017

  • Namibia’s government continues to exercise the requisite leadership in developing and financing the policies it needs to address its development challenges, policies such as the Harambee Prosperity Plan, recently launched as part of its fifth National Development Plan. The implementation and outcomes from its delivery of public services lags behind the policies, however. The World Bank Strategy for Namibia consists of two pillars focusing on:

    • State Capacity
      • Economic management
      • Environment and natural resource management
      • Statistical capacity
      • Health and nutrition
    •  Private sector Development
      • Institutional environment for a competitive private sector
      • Investments in productive capacity and infrastructure

    Last Updated: Oct 13, 2017

  • Development Challenges

    Namibia’s relatively strong economic growth has not been enough to deal with its levels of poverty, inequality, and unemployment. By the national poverty line (N$377.96), poor Namibians made up 28.7% of the total population in 2009/10, a drop of 9.0 percentage points from 37.7% in 2003/04.

    The reduction was driven by gains in rural areas.

    By the international poverty line, 16.9% of the population lived on less than $1.90 a day in 2015, compared to 21.3% in 2010. In 2015, 39.0% lived below the $3.10 per day poverty line, compared to 44.3% in 2010. Namibia remains one of the most unequal countries in the world, with a Gini coefficient of 0.597 in 2010.

    Last Updated: Oct 13, 2017

  • 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 13, 2017

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LENDING

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

*Amounts include IBRD and IDA commitments


PHOTO GALLERY

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Additional Resources

Country Office Contacts

Main Office Contact
442 Rodericks Street
Lynnwood Road
Tshwane 0081
+27-12-742-3100
South Africa
Zandi Ratshitanga
+27-12-742-3107
zratshitanga@worldbank.org
Washington
Emmanuel Ngankam
Sr. Communications Officer
1818 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20433
+1-202-458-7654
enoubissie@worldbank.org