US$6bn spending positions Nam as regional hub

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Tiri Masawi

Windhoek – Namibia has spent around N$90 billion, or just over US$6 billion, on developmental infrastructure since independence in 1990, in the process positioning itself as a transport and logistics hub in Southern Africa.

This is contained in a new government report titled “Namibia’s 30 Years, Developmental Journey”.

In those 30 years, the Swapo government has grown Namibia’s GDP from about US$484 million to roughly US$12 billion.

The capital expenditure has also seen Namibia building what the 2018 World Economic Forum’s Road Quality Index termed Africa’s best road network.

The international standard road network is in addition to investments in airports as well as the expansion of Walvis Bay Port.

Last week, Namibia National Planning Commissioner Obeth Kandjoze said, “The Walvis Bay new container terminal has contributed to an increased handling capacity at the ports (increasing the capacity to 750,000TEUs from 350,000TEUs), and these developments together with the ongoing construction of roads, such as the Swakopmund-Walvis Bay dual carriageway, are among the developments directly leading to Namibia becoming a logistical hub for SADC and beyond.”

(“TEU” refers to “twenty-foot equivalent unit”, a measure used to indicate cargo capacity.)

Kandjoze added: “On the infrastructure front, major developments have been recorded in the transport and logistics sector as characterized by the roads network connection of more than 47,000km, providing access to the various parts of the country.

“In the railway the sector, although in terms of kilometre expansion there has not really been significant progress, as only  2,687km of rail, are recorded to-date from 2,372km registered at independence, further upgrades have been made on  the existing rail lines while the ongoing projects are expected to expand the network.”

Kandjoze said the Namibian government commissioned the 30-year update report to both celebrate successes scored since independence, as well as identify gaps ad act on them.

Away from infrastructure, the government highlighted strides made in the fisheries sector, where 200 rights are currently being exploited from zero at independence.

“Moreover, significant progress has also been recorded in the aquaculture sub-sector where, to-date, there are 122 fish ponds countrywide,” Kandjoze said.

Mining, he pointed out, was an economic mainstay.

“It is gratifying to note that the mining sector, on the other hand, has also contributed significantly to the economy over the years, with mining and quarrying contributing an average of more than 10 percent to GDP since 1990.

“To date, there are 38 mining companies in the country, 938 active mining explorations and approximately N$2,1 billion (approximately US$141 million) billion was paid as royalties in 2018 alone,” Kandjoze said. 

Key among the challenges picked by the NPC was the slow pace of diversifying the economic base, which has largely remained consumptive and reliant on the extractive sector.

“In terms of the wildlife sector, we have recorded some growth since independence, and there were 86 recorded/ registered conservancies by 2019, having had none prior to independence.

“The Namibian Tourism sector has also grown over the years with the country’s beautiful sceneries and landscape having captured the attention of international tourists...

“Tourist arrivals have increased from just over 200,000 around 1990, to over 1,5 million by 2018, and this number is expected to increase in the coming years,” Kandjoze added.

The NPC said exports had grown rapidly from about US$1 billion in 1990 to more than US$4,2 billion.

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