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Namibia Economy
 
 
 

General

Namibia’s economy consists primarily of mining and manufacturing which represent 8% of the gross domestic product (GDP) respectively. Namibia has a 30-40% unemployment rate and recently passed a 2004 labour act to protect people from job discrimination stemming from pregnancy and HIV/AIDS status. Namibia’s economy is tied closely to South Africa’s due to their shared history. The Central Plateau serves as a transportation corridor from the more densely populated north to South Africa, the source of four-fifths of Namibia’s imports. Namibia is the 4th largest exporter of non-fuel minerals in Africa and the world's 5th largest producer of uranium. There has been significant investment in uranium mining and Namibia is set to become the largest exporter of uranium by 2015. Rich alluvial diamond deposits make Namibia a primary source for gem-quality diamonds. Namibia also produces large quantities of lead, zinc, tin, silver and tungsten.

About half of the population depends on agriculture (largely subsistence agriculture) for its livelihood, but Namibia must still import some of its food. Although per capita GDP is five times the per capita GDP of Africa's poorest countries, the majority of Namibia's people live in rural areas and exist on a subsistence way of life. Namibia has one of the highest rates of income inequality in the world, due in part to the fact that there is an urban economy and a more rural cash-less economy. The inequality figures thus take into account people who do not actually rely on the formal economy for their survival. Agreement has been reached on the privatisation of several more enterprises in coming years, with hopes that this will stimulate much needed foreign investment. However, reinvestment of environmentally derived capital has hobbled Namibian per capita income. One of the fastest growing areas of economic development in Namibia is the growth of wildlife conservancies. These conservancies are particularly important to the rural generally unemployed population.

Namibia generally attracts eco-tourists with the majority visiting to experience the different climates and natural geographical landscapes such as the great eastern desert and plains. There are many lodges and reserves to accommodate eco-tourists. In addition, extreme sports such as sandboarding and 4x4ing have become popular, and many cities have companies that provide tours.

The most visited places include the Sossusvlei, Etosha Pan and the coastal towns of Swakopmund, Walvis Bay and Lüderitz.

Overview

Economy - overview
The economy is heavily dependent on the extraction and processing of minerals for export. Mining accounts for 8% of GDP, but provides more than 50% of foreign exchange earnings. Rich alluvial diamond deposits make Namibia a primary source for gem-quality diamonds. Namibia is the fourth-largest exporter of nonfuel minerals in Africa, the world's fifth-largest producer of uranium, and the producer of large quantities of lead, zinc, tin, silver and tungsten. The mining sector employs only about 3% of the population while about half of the population depends on subsistence agriculture for its livelihood. Namibia normally imports about 50% of its cereal requirements; in drought years food shortages are a major problem in rural areas. A high per capita GDP, relative to the region, hides one of the world's most unequal income distributions. The Namibian economy is closely linked to South Africa with the Namibian dollar pegged one-to-one to the South African rand. Increased payments from the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) put Namibia's budget into surplus in 2007 for the first time since independence, but SACU payments will decline after 2008 as part of a new revenue sharing formula. Increased fish production and mining of zinc, copper, uranium and silver spurred growth in 2003-07, but growth in recent years was undercut by poor fish catches and high costs for metal inputs.

GDP (purchasing power parity)
$10.69 billion (2007 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate)
$7.4 billion (2007 est.)

GDP - real growth rate
3.6% (2007 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP)
$5,200 (2007 est.)

GDP - composition by sector
agriculture 10.6%
industry 35.4%
services 53.9% (2007 est.)

Labour force
660,000 (2007 est.)

Labour force - by occupation
agriculture 47%
industry 20%
services 33% (1999 est.)

Unemployment rate
5.2% (2007 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share
lowest 10% 0.5%
highest 10% 64.5% (2003)


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