Economic growth slowed down to 3.8% in 2011 from 6.6% in 2010, following a contraction of 0.4% in 2009. This reflects modest performance in mining and agricultural activities due to severe flooding in the north of the country and industrial action, as well as weak demand for mineral products arising from weaker global economy.
Reflecting the continuation of the government’s expansionary fiscal policy aimed at cushioning the domestic economy from the severe impact of the global economic downturn, Namibia’s fiscal deficit is expected to remain high, averaging nearly 6.5% of GDP between 2011/12 and 2012/13, and the country’s public debt has risen in recent years although it remains sustainable and below the 30% of GDP threshold.
Namibia is confronted with a high official unemployment rate of 51.2% based on the Labour Force Survey 2008, while 83.6% of the 15 to 19 years of age are unemployed. Young people struggle to manage the transition from school to the workplace, which is to a large extent blamed on the educational system that does not equip learners with the skills required on the labour market.
The Namibian economy slowed down in 2011 with a GDP growth rate of 3.8%, down from 6.6% in 2010, reflecting modest performances in mining and agricultural activities. Prospects for the medium-term remain favourable with GDP growth projected to continue on its path of recovery to an average of 4.2 percent for the years 2012 and 2013, driven by construction, livestock and crop farming, manufacturing and mining.
After years of fiscal surpluses arising from prudent macroeconomic policies, the fiscal situation has deteriorated substantially, reflecting the global economic crisis and expansionary policies to support growth. The budget for 2011/12 provides for the continuation of the expansionary fiscal policy for the fourth successive year as the Government commences the implementation of the three-year Targeted Intervention Programme for Employment and Economic Growth (TIPEEG), totalling 14.7 billion Namibian dollars (NAD), aimed at creating and retaining 104 000 jobs. As a result, the fiscal deficit is expected to widen, averaging nearly 6.5% of GDP between 2011/12 and 2012/13. The deficit is financed by domestic borrowing and foreign debt. Namibia’s debt levels have risen in recent years, but remain sustainable and below the 30% threshold, despite the expansionary fiscal policy.
Risks to Namibia’s positive medium-term outlook include a severe slowdown in the global economy emanating from the sovereign debt crisis Eurozone and the structural reductions in the Southern Africa Customs Union (SACU). It is also clouded by the country’s massive challenges of poverty, high unemployment and inequality.
Namibia is confronted with a high official employment rate of 51.2% on average, and 80 percent for the youth (15-19 years of age). The high youth unemployment is mainly attributed to the educational system that does not equip learners with the skills required on the labour market although the education sector receives the highest share of the national budget. Namibia does not have an Employment Policy, but there are several programs targeting the youth, including the National Youth Service, which provide young people with required skills through vocational training and support them to start their own business.
Figure 1: Real GDP growth (Southern)
Table 1: Macroeconomic Indicators 2012
|Real GDP growth||6.6||4.9||4.7||4.2|
|Real GDP per capita growth||4.8||3.1||3||2.5|
|Budget balance % GDP||-1.4||-5.7||-9||-4.7|
|Current account % GDP||2||-1.4||3.2||2.3|
Recent Developments & Prospects
Table 2: GDP by Sector (percentage of GDP)
|Agriculture, forestry, fishing & hunting||10.5||7.4|
|Agriculture, livestock, forestry and fisheries||-||-|
|of which agriculture||-||-|
|Mining and quarrying||13.3||9.6|
|of which oil||-||-|
|Electricity, gas and water||2||2.8|
|Electricity, water and sewerage||-||-|
|Wholesale and retail trade, hotels and restaurants||13.7||14.9|
|of which hotels and restaurants||-||-|
|Transport, storage and communication||5.1||5.8|
|Transport and storage, information and communication||-||-|
|Finance, real estate and business services||26.5||28.7|
|Financial intermediation, real estate services, business and other service activities||-||-|
|General government services||8.9||9.7|
|Public administration & defence; social security, education, health & social work||-||-|
|Public administration, education, health||-||-|
|Public administration, education, health & other social & personal services||-||-|
|Other community, social & personal service activities||-||-|
|Gross domestic product at basic prices / factor cost||100||100|
|Wholesale and retail trade, hotels and restaurants||-||-|
After contracting by 0.4% in 2009 as a result of the impact of the global economic crisis, Namibia’s economic growth recovered strongly reaching 6.6% in 2010, boosted by stimulus measures implemented by the Government since 2009 and the high commodity prices arising from improved global demand for mineral products. Real GDP growth is expected to slow down to 3.8% in 2011, reflecting modest performance in agriculture due to severe flooding in the north and in mining due to industrial action, as well as weak demand for mineral products arising from weaker-than-expected state of the global economy emanating from the Eurozone debt crisis.
Agriculture and forestry (excluding fishing and hunting), which contributed 4.1% to GDP growth in 2010, performed poorly in both 2010 and 2011, expanding respectively by only 0.4 and 0.7%. Livestock farming is the backbone of the sub-sector, representing over half of agriculture output. Its performance was affected by the slowdown in cattle exports due to foot and mouth disease suspicions in some districts. Namibia’s crop farming, particularly of mahangu (pearl millet), was adversely affected by flooding in the north and north-east regions. The production of maize in irrigation schemes was, however, not seriously affected by the flooding. Access to land remains one of the major challenges to boost rural agricultural productivity.
After strong recovery in 2010, output in mining and quarrying industry is expected to contract by 17.3% in 2011. The decline mainly reflects a sharp fall in diamond mining due to industrial actions and diminishing diamond deposits, while the lifespan for diamond mines is only up to 2015 and needs heavy investments to extend it to 2050. Other mining and quarrying activities are also estimated to have fallen sharply mainly due to a decline in uranium production due to heavy rainfall and low uranium prices related to a review by some countries of the nuclear programs in the aftermath of the Japanese Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant disaster. Namibia is the fourth largest producer of uranium in the world and, looking ahead, uranium is expected to overtake diamonds as the main export commodity, reflecting an increase in uranium prices due to increased demand from China and India. Production is also projected to increase as the Langer Heinrich mine completes its third expansion phase. Mining and quarrying contributed 9.6% to GDP 2010, compared with 9.9% in 2000, and provided over half of Namibia’s exports in 2010.
The manufacturing sector grew by 3.3% in 2011, compared with 9.1% in 2010. The poor performance is partly attributed to the sluggish growth in mineral production for beneficiation and the setback experienced by cement production from Ohoronga when Angola banned importation of cement from Namibia. Manufacturing contributed 15.8% to GDP in 2010, up from 11.7% in 2000.
The construction sector is estimated to have expanded by 8.0% in 2011. The strong growth was driven mainly by increased construction activities supported by the rolling out of the program TIPEEG. The program, which was launched by government in March 2011, is designed to reduce Namibia’s high unemployment rate of 51.2% by creating and retaining 104 000 job opportunities. It will cost NAD 14.6 billion over a three-year period starting from 2011/12 financial year and aims at achieving its objectives through spending on infrastructure and other public works programs, targeting agriculture, tourism, transport, sanitation and housing. The program has the potential to create huge numbers of direct and indirect job opportunities, in particular for unskilled youth population, given that the bulk of the unemployed are the young and unskilled segment of the population. The construction sector has registered double digit growth on average during the last ten years. Its contribution to GDP has doubled from 2% in 2000 to 4% in 2010.
The service sector, which contributed nearly 55% to GDP on average during 2000-10, continued to experience strong growth, expanding by 5.9% in 2011. The wholesale and retail trade category grew strongly by 8.8% in 2011 from 7.9% in 2010. It is mainly attributed to increments in the salaries of civil servants in 2011 and favourable interest rates during 2011. The central bank decided to keep the repo rate unchanged at 6.0% in 2011 to stimulate domestic demand and support growth. Consistent with the overall performance of the economy, transport and communication category is estimated to have weakened in 2011 growing by 4.7% from 7.4% in 2010, reflecting the decline in domestic economic activities, especially in the mining and cement industries. The continued fragility in the global economy, however, hit tourism hard as reflected in the performance of the hotels and restaurants category, which is estimated to have contracted by 5.0% in 2011, a slight improvement over a contraction of 8.2% is 2010.
On the expenditure side, private consumption grew moderately by an estimated 1.7% in 2011, after a 3.2% contraction in 2010, as higher household indebtedness and high levels of unemployment exacerbated by job losses during the economic downturn in 2009 continued to weigh on consumer spending. Public investment continues to grow at a rate of 15%, reflecting the government’s expansionary fiscal policy.
Prospects for the medium term remain favourable with GDP growth projected to continue on its path of recovery to around 4.2% per annum during 2012-13. The recovery is expected to be driven by anticipated increased activities in the livestock and crop farming owing to the expansion of land under irrigation and government intervention programs to increase the production capacity of the industry. It will also be influenced by the expansion in mining activity arising from improvement in uranium production on the back of higher commodity prices and the prospect of other new mineral resources although diamond production will decline due to the depletion of the resources. The manufacturing sector is also expected to register strong growth owing to increased production of beverages mainly due to extensions and renovations of plants undertaken by the industry in 2011 and the resumption of cement exports to Angola, as well as a new chicken farm that can cover Namibia’s demand for broilers. Lastly, government’s budget is likely to expand in 2012 due to planned construction activities in the context of TIPPEG.
Risks to the positive medium-term outlook include a severe slowdown in the global economy emanating from the sovereign debt crisis in Eurozone and the fiscal problems in the US, as well as the structural reduction in SACU revenues. Namibia’s growth prospects are also clouded by the country’s massive challenges of poverty and high unemployment and inequality, as well as infrastructure bottlenecks. The country, therefore, needs to make further progress in developing stronger engines for employment-creating growth and making growth more inclusive in order to increase the resilience of its medium-term growth prospects.
Due to its membership in the Common Monetary Area (CMA), the burden of safeguarding macroeconomic stability in Namibia falls on fiscal policy and structural reforms. Consequently, the authorities have continued to pursue a fiscal strategy anchored on maintaining fiscal sustainability and economic growth. The government took timely stimulus measures to shield the economy from the effects of the global economic crisis, which have facilitated the economic recovery. The expansionary fiscal stance has, however, turned three successive years of budget surpluses into fiscal deficits that have widened in the past two years. The budget for 2011/12 provides for the continuation of the expansionary fiscal policy for the fourth successive year as the government takes bold steps aimed at creating and retaining 104 000 jobs through the program TIPEEG. It will cost NAD 14.7 billion over a three-year period starting from 2011/12 financial year.
In 2011/12, Government revenue is expected to increase moderately by 0.7 percentage points to 26.0% of GDP. Compounded by high expenditures of 34.6% of GDP, the fiscal deficit is expected to remain high, averaging nearly 6.5% of GDP between 2011/12 and 2012/13. The deficit is expected to be financed by domestic borrowing and, to a lesser extent, foreign debt. In this regard, on 27 October 2011, the Government successfully issued a US$ 500 million 10-year sovereign Eurobond in the international market. Namibia’s fiscal challenges are expected to be compounded in the medium-term by the anticipated drop in SACU receipts, which have historically accounted for about a third of Government revenues, reflecting a slowdown in the South African economy and the weak global climate, as well as the possible revision in the SACU sharing formula.
Taxes continue to be the main source of government revenue, accounting for about 94% of total revenue (26.8% of GDP) in the 2011/12. The bulk of the government revenue is generated from tax on income and profits (42%), followed by the customs receipts from the country’s membership of the Southern Africa Customs Union (SACU) pool (33%) and domestic taxes on goods and services, including VAT (23%). Namibia has one of the highest tax rates in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region, with income tax rates as high as 37%, corporate tax rate of 35% and VAT set at 15%. The government is looking for measures to strengthen non-SACU revenue, including improving value-added tax (VAT) compliance and tax audits and widening the coverage of the minerals tax.
Tax administration is generally efficient. In recent years, Namibia has continued to broaden its tax base. An integrated tax management system is being developed in order to simplify tax administration. The government is also currently undertaking tax policy reviews, including tax administration, with the view to optimize revenue collection with emphasis on finding alternative sources of revenues.
Table 3: Public Finances (percentage of GDP)
|Total revenue and grants||29.2||27.2||31.4||31.9||31.8||31.2||27.3||28.1||27.6|
|Total expenditure and net lending (a)||31.8||27.4||27.3||27.7||30||32.5||34.9||34.6||33.9|
|Wages and salaries||13.1||12.2||11.1||10.4||10.3||11.7||12.8||12.4||12.2|
Namibia’s membership to the CMA severely weakens the role of monetary policy. The dual currency system in the country, with the Namibian dollar and the South African rand in circulation, implies that the country has limited monetary instruments and, the main level of policy discretion of the Bank of Namibia (BoN) is to maintain a different Repo rate from that set by the South African Reserve Bank. Since excess liquidity can pose some challenges in terms of increased inflationary pressures and/or a reduction in net foreign assets, the central bank tries to implement an appropriate monetary stance aimed at maintaining the currency peg and, thus, a healthy balance of foreign exchange reserves.
Annual inflation declined from 8.7% in 2009 to 4.5% in 2010 in tandem with trends in South Africa, the source of about two-thirds of Namibia’s imports. Inflationary pressures started building up with year-on-year inflation accelerating to 6.1% and 6.0% in October and November 2011, respectively, due to rising food and fuel prices, which pushed transport costs up, in line with higher inflation in South Africa. Inflation is expected to remain around 5.0% and 6.0% in 2011 and 2012, respectively. The central bank decided to keep the Repo rate unchanged at 6.0% in the third quarter of 2011. The prevailing low inflation environment has, therefore, enabled BoN to pursue an accommodative policy stance to further stimulate domestic demand to support domestic growth.
Economic Cooperation, Regional Integration & Trade
Membership to three regional groupings and trade agreements, namely, the CMA, SACU and Southern African Development Community (SADC) underlines the importance Namibia attaches to regional integration. In view of the country’s small market size, regional integration provides access to a regional market of over 350 million people. It also provides opportunities to expand and diversify Namibia’s export markets. Membership in CMA, the pillar of Namibia’s monetary and exchange rate policies, has helped integrate the country into the South African money and capital markets and enabled it to enjoy an unrestricted transfer of funds without any transaction costs, thereby facilitating cross-border trade among the member countries. Namibia has signed and ratified all protocols and agreements of key economic integration and cooperation.
The Namibian economy is very open with the ratio of merchandise trade to GDP of 95% in 2010. Namibia’s trade policy is largely governed by its membership to SACU. The average tariff is declining due to on-going tariff reducing trade agreements. About 80% of all Namibia’s exports benefit from free trade agreements. The country initialled the Interim Economic Partnership Agreement in November 2007, though negotiations for a full Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) have been protracted. The European Union (EU) has set a deadline for Namibia to sign the EPA by January 2014 or lose its duty- and quota-free market for beef, fish and grapes, as well as other exports to the 27 EU countries. The authorities want issues relating to unfair competition to be resolved first before conclusion of the negotiations. Customs procedures have been made simpler, resulting in reduced clearance and cycle time of cargo processing.
Table 4: Current Account (percentage of GDP)
|Exports of goods (f.o.b.)||35||33.2||43.9||47.1||39.9||37.7||38||40.6||40.3|
|Imports of goods (f.o.b.)||47.5||32||46.2||47.9||48.7||43.8||44.6||45.8||44.8|
|Current account balance||4.9||13.8||9.4||8.8||5.2||2||-4||-1.4||-1|
Cabinet approved the Sovereign Debt Management Strategy (SDMS) in 2005, which guides the country’s debt policy. This represents a major step in government’s efforts to improve debt management. The overall objective of the strategy is to ensure that public debt remains affordable and at low risk to ensure fiscal sustainable. The government has a very conservative debt policy, which prescribes that public debt as a percentage of GDP should be kept within the target of 35% of GDP. Against the backdrop of the global economic crisis, the authorities decided to raise the public debt-to-GDP ratio from 25% to a range of 35% in order to enable the government to implement countercyclical measures to shield the economy from the effects of the global economic downturn. Namibia’s debt levels remain sustainable and significantly below the threshold, despite the expansionary fiscal policy. Total public debt stock, of which only 4.3% is foreign, is expected to reach 27.4% of GDP in 2011/12 from 14% in 2010/11.
Figure 2: Stock of total external debt (percentage of GDP) and debt service (percentage of exports of goods and services)
Economic & Political Governance
Namibia has given priority to improving the business environment. In line with the Foreign Investment Act of 1993, an investment-friendly legislative and regulatory framework, a competitive incentive regime and a low crime rate ensure Namibia’s attractiveness to investment. The country ranks among Africa’s best performers in the 2012 World Bank Doing Business report, in spite of the fact that it has slipped in ranking from 74 in 2011 to 78 in 2012. It is the sixth best performer in sub-Saharan Africa and below only Mauritius (23), South Africa (35) and Botswana (54) among SADC countries. Notable problematic factors for doing business in Namibia include the fact that it takes 39 days and 7 procedures to register property and 66 days to set up a business. Transferring property is also expensive for companies. The government has taken a number of measures to improve the overall business climate. It has embarked on automating the property registration system to reduce time and red tape involved in the process and has also constructed two industrial parks, one export processing zone and three small and medium enterprise business parks.
Dealing with construction permits involves 12 procedures and takes 139 days, which compares favourably with the averages for sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) countries, while paying taxes involves 37 payments per annum and takes 375 hours, but the tax rate is only 9.8% of profits. Although there is little state intervention in the goods market, trading across the borders is relatively more difficult than in other SACU countries. According to Doing Business 2012, Namibia has an efficient mechanism for dealing with insolvency. The Companies Act encourages disclosure and protects shareholder rights.
Namibia’s labour law is flexible in so far as hiring employees is concerned. However, the regular complaint by the Employers’ Association is that it is difficult to fire employees and the Labour Act makes provision for quite generous leave, including annual leave, compassionate leave and maternity leave. The administratively burdensome process of obtaining work permits for foreign employees is a hindrance to investment. The country adopted a liberal labour relations framework after independence in accordance with the country’s strategy which placed emphasis on foreign direct investment as the engine for growth and job creation.
Namibia has one of the most sophisticated, diverse and developed financial systems in Africa. The 2011/12 Global Competitiveness Report assessed the banking sector of Namibia as being sound and stable, ranking it in seventh position in Africa. The Bank of Namibia successfully migrated to the Basel II as a regulatory standard for capital adequacy in January 2010. Accordingly, all banking institutions in Namibia have since implemented the Standardized Approach for the measurements and calculation of capital charges for credit, operational and market risks. Commercial banks remain strong, well-capitalized, profitable and resilient to shocks, including the current financial market concerns in Europe. In 2010, the capital adequacy ratio for the banking was 15.3%, compared to 15.0% in 2009, while both the return on assets and return on equity increased from 2.1% and 20.4% to 2.5% and 25.1%, respectively. As at end-December 2010, the banking sector’s non-performing loans (NPLs) ratio stood at 2.0%, an improvement over the 2.7% reported in 2009. The financial sector regulation is generally sound and Namibia has been able to keep pace with emerging global standards by passing laws and adopting standards that are consistent with international best practices, including the Financial Intelligence Act, the Prevention of Organized Crime Act and the Combating the Financing of Terrorism Bill.
The Namibia financial system consists of four commercial banks, four specialized finance institutions and other non-bank institutions such as insurance companies and pension funds, smaller intermediaries in the form of stockbrokers and money market funds, and the Namibia stock exchange. Banks dominate the financial system with a share of nearly 40% of total assets. Historically, the banking sector has been dominated by foreign ownership, with the majority owned by South African parent companies. As of 2010, total bank assets stood at about two-thirds of GDP, above the African average. Money market rates registered a downward trajectory from 2008, which brought the average nominal lending and deposit rates down to 9.01% and 4.41%, respectively, in December 2011, leading to a narrowing spread between lending and deposit rates. Reflecting this, private sector credit rose slightly by 10.8% to NAD 40.3 billion or about 50% of GDP at the end of 2010. The loans-to-deposit ratio declined to 90.4% at the end of 2010 from 94.3% the previous year, implying that banking institutions continued to be funded by core deposits.
Notwithstanding these achievements, there are concerns that financial services are not accessible to a large segment of its population. According to the survey conducted by FinScope in 2007, 51.7% of the Namibian population are excluded from formal financial services. Namibia’s low population density, which leads to high operating costs, adversely affects the viability of many forms of microfinance in the country. In order to promote financial inclusion, the Bank of Namibia is pursuing, in the context of the Namibia Financial Sector Strategy 2010-20 adopted by Cabinet in May 2011, a number of policy measures aimed at enabling new players to develop appropriate financial services and products needed to increase access to microcredits. It intends to initiate in 2012 the drafting of a new legislation that will establish the regulatory framework for Tier II banks, which will serve as microfinance oriented banks with a special focus on serving the low income segment of the society.
Public Sector Management, Institutions & Reform
Namibia has consistently ranked among the top sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries on good governance. It has well-functioning democratic institutions, press freedom and respect for the rule of law, which have ensured peace and security. The judiciary is independent, and accountability and transparency norms are generally adhered to. The country has consistently scored at least 4 out of 5 in all the categories of World Bank Group’s County Policy and Institutional Assessment (CPIA), with the exception of property rights and rule based governance. The government emphasizes political neutrality and impartiality in the civil service. Corruption is not endemic in practice in any public agency. Public sector personnel costs are estimated at about 11% of GDP in 2011/12, which compares favourably to the average for SACU countries of 10.6% for the period 1997-2004. The Namibian civil service is well remunerated compared to other African countries. Civil servants got a pay increment of 24% in 2010, stretched over 2009 and 2010 (12% per year), and 10% in 2011, well above the inflation rate.
Independent audit, anti-corruption agency and an impartial judiciary contribute to the low level of corruption in the country. The 2010 Corruption Perception Index by Transparency International ranks Namibia 56th globally (out of 178 countries), an improvement from 57th in 2009, and the fourth and sixth least corrupt country in Southern Africa and sub-Saharan Africa, respectively, after Botswana, Mauritius, Cape Verde, Seychelles and South Africa. Oversight institutions are active or being strengthened. The Public Accounts Committee has been very active in 2010 and 2011 and public hearings have shone the spotlight on serious breached in good governance at various government departments and agencies. The PAC appears to be taking its oversight role increasingly seriously. The independence of the Auditor General’s office is further being strengthened, through a new Audit Bill that is currently at advanced stages of the legislative process. The modernization of the procurement system is also underway with the approval by Cabinet in 2011 of the new Tender Board Bill to replace the outdated Tender Board Act of 1996. The Constitution was amended in 2010 to incorporate anti-corruption measures that oblige the state to “put in place administrative and legislative measures necessary to prevent and combat corruption”. The amendment brought the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), established under the Anti-Corruption Act of 2003, under the ambit of the constitution, thus, ACC became a constitutionally enshrined institution in 2010.
Natural Resource Management & Environment
Namibia is well endowed with natural resources, including diamonds, uranium, lead, gold, copper, zinc, fish and fish products, livestock, natural gas, and some of the most spectacular and varied scenery, as well as a wide diversity of wild and fauna and flora. Availability of natural resources constitutes an asset for the country, which offers a unique opportunity for the government to lay the foundations for sustainable economic growth and development and improve the lives of its citizens. The government is, thus, responding to environmental and climate change threats in order to take advantage of the opportunities presented by natural resources through policies and strategies. Namibia is a signatory to many environmental conventions, including those on biodiversity, climate change, desertification and hazardous wastes. It is also a party to the SADC Protocol on Shared Watercourses, which has an objective to foster integrated, equitable and efficient use of shared water resources in the region. These conventions and protocols are being implemented within the context of the Environmental Assessment Policy, 1994 and the Environmental Management Act, 1998. Following the adoption by Parliament of the Environmental Management and Assessment Act in 2008, the National Climate Change Policy was approved in 2011 and consultations are already underway on a Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan. A Country Pilot Partnership for Sustainable Land Management Programme to improve the management of environmental issues has also been introduced and is being implemented. The Designated National Authority for Climate Change, housed under the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, has also been established.
Namibia continues to enjoy political stability since gaining independence in 1990, after a long struggle against South African rule. President Hifikepunye Pohamba was re-elected for a second and last five-year term in November 2009 after winning 76.4% of the votes. His governing South West Africa People’s Organization party got 74% of the parliamentary vote, maintaining its two-thirds majority. The main opposition party won 11.3% of the vote. Although African observer missions declared the election largely free, fair and peaceful, except for minor and isolated incidences, 13 of the 16 opposition parties that took part in the presidential and parliamentary elections contested the results in court. The opposition’s application to annul the election results and order a recount was dismissed by the High Court a year later in February 2011. Freedom in the World 2011 published by Freedom House gave Namibia a score of 2 (on a scale of 1-7, with 1 representing the highest level of freedom) and categorized it as a “free” country with open political competition, a climate of respect for civil liberties, significant independent civic life and independent media.
Thematic analysis: Promoting Youth Employment
Namibia is confronted with a high official unemployment rate of 51.2% based on the Labour Force Survey 2008, even though some doubt that this figure is correct. There is however no doubt, that the youth is affected the most by the high rate of unemployment and, within the young people, it is in particular women who cannot find jobs. 83.6% of the 15 to 19 years of age are unemployed based on the broad definition that includes persons being without a job, but who are not actively seeking work. 89.1% of all women in the category of 15 to 19 years of age were unemployment compared to 78.2% of men. Furthermore, the youth in rural areas is more affected than in urban areas. 93.3% of women and 80.4% of men in rural areas were unemployed compared to 81.4% 74.3% respectively in urban areas. The rates decline continuously with increasing age. 72.7% of women in the age group of 20 to 24 years of age were recorded as being unemployed, while this applied to 60.8% in the age group of 25 to 29 years of age. The figures for men stood at 61.6 and 44.8% respectively. The unemployment data demonstrate that young people struggle to manage the transition from school to the workplace. This is to a large extent blamed on the educational system that does not equip learners with the skills required on the labour market although the Ministry of Education has received over the years the highest share of the national budget – around 22%. One of the main shortcomings is the lack of vocational subjects in primary and secondary schools and the limited capacity of Vocational Training Centres. Through ETSIP, whose aim is to improve the development of relevant and demanded skills through the vocational education system, the Ministry of Education has started addressing the shortcomings of the educational system that has resulted in the low outcome and it is expected that the youth will be better prepared for the world of work. The introduction of a training levy is planned for the 1 April 2013 to finance training courses at vocational training centres as well as certified in-house training courses in order to address the skill shortage.
Namibia does not have an Employment Policy, but there are several programs targeting the youth. In 2005, the Government created the Ministry of Youth and, through the National Youth Service Act, 2005, established a youth development service institution, the National Youth Service (NYS). The objective of the NYS is to provide the youth with the required skills through vocational training. The NYS accommodates about 2 700 youth. The majority of them are involved in security services, while others are employed in agriculture, aquaculture, health and hospitality services. The NYS runs also a National Youth Credit Scheme that has benefitted so far some 5 000 young people between the ages of 18 and 35 years and, in collaboration with a local commercial bank, provides a collateral fund that covers up to 90% of the required collateral. These initiatives aim at supporting young people starting their own business. The National Youth Council, an autonomous umbrella organization of 46 member organizations, has also identified the lack of collaterals and the lack of access to finance as the main barriers for young people to enter the world of business. It has, therefore, established the Credit for Youth in Business scheme, which benefits some 200 young people. This scheme however requires own financial contributions from the beneficiary, which is likely to increase the sustainability. Trade Unions have also realized that the challenge of youth employment requires special attention with one of the two umbrella bodies intending to establish a position dedicated to youth employment issues.
The official release of the Labour Force Survey 2008 in the middle of 2010 has put the topic of unemployment high on government’s agenda. The government convened an employment summit towards the end of 2010 and designed the program TIPEEG to be implemented during the Medium-term Expenditure Framework period 2011/12 to 2013/14. TIPEEG has two objectives, namely creating and retaining about 104 000 jobs over the three year period and stimulate domestic economic growth in the wake of uncertainties surrounding the global economic recovery. Agriculture is one of the sectors targeted by TIPEEG and the youth stands to benefit in particular from the de-bushing program that is addressing bush encroachment in Namibia and is expected to increase the carrying capacity of farms.
While Labour laws do not explicitly address different age groups, the Labour Act is seen by some as a general barrier to employment creation since it makes firing difficult. This can lead employers to hire fewer workers than they could have done otherwise. It is reasonable to assume that this will in particular affect new entrants to the job market negatively that do not have a track record and experience. The government is implementing the Employment Service Bill that requires businesses to submit information on vacancies to the ministry so that the ministry can link job seekers to the company. There are, however, concerns that these requirements will only increase red tape and discourage hiring. The main reason for vacancies is the lack of adequate skills that meet the job requirements, and less the lack of information about vacancies.