Namibian Economics To The Point – July 2022

1 Aug 2022

The month of July brought rather mild winter weather, which was a relief after a very cold June.

The Namibian government has lifted all Covid-19 restrictions on 15 July and wearing of masks is not compulsory anymore. Daily updates on Covid infections were changed to once a week.

Foreigners entering Namibia must either show a valid and genuine vaccination certificate or provide a negative PCR test, which may not be older than 72 hours.

The Lufthansa subsidiary Eurowings Discovery increased its direct flights from Frankfurt to Windhoek from 7 to 10 flights weekly. This is done by offering 2 flights 55 minutes apart from each other on 3 nights per week until 31 October. Qatar Airways has also resumed flights to Namibia with 3 landings per week.

Namibia hosted the fourth Africa Youth in Tourism Innovation Summit and Challenge this month, where opportunities for young Africans in the tourism industry were discussed.

The European Union plans to source green hydrogen products from Namibia in a move to reduce its dependence on Russian energy.

The Langer Heinrich Uranium mine in the Erongo Region will start production again in the first quarter of 2024, after operations were suspended in 2018 due to low uranium prices. The Australian company Paladin owns 75 percent of the mine and the Chinese government company CNNC Overseas Uranium Holdings owns 25 percent. Uranium prices increased since the European Commission declared nuclear power a “renewable energy source a few months ago.

Namibia’s inflation rate increased to 6.0 percent at the end of June (May: 5.4 percent), according to the national Statistics Agency and the highest since June 2017.

Germany’s newly appointed special commissioner for German-Namibian climate and energy cooperation, Rainer Baake visited Namibia to discuss the development of a green hydrogen economy.


More foreign arrivals in Namibia in 2021


Foreign arrivals in Namibia during 2021 improved by 40.9 percent compared to 2020. About 270,644 foreigners visited Namibia last year, up from 192,026 in 2020. From the total figure of 270,644 arrivals, 232,756 were tourists, an increase of 37.3 percent compared to 2020, when only 169,565 tourists travelled to Namibia.

According to the latest report of the Ministry of Environment Tourism and Forestry on annual tourist arrival statistics for 2021, Germany, France, Switzerland, the United States of America and the United Kingdom made up the top five of the overseas tourist markets, being some 25,3 percent.

“This growth is commendable considering the negative impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on the tourism sector globally in 2020 and 2021,” the Minister of Tourism, Pohamba Shifeta noted. Launching the report end of July, Shifeta said that approximately 70 percent tourists came from African countries, mainly South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Botswana.

Interestingly, most arrivals - 41.8 percent - were recorded from October to December last year. Tourists extended their stay in Namibia to 24 days in 2021 and up to 19 days in 2020.


More cooperation in green hydrogen with Germany


Germany’s Federal Economic Affairs and Climate Minister, Robert Habeck has sent as special commissioner to Namibia to hold talks on green hydrogen cooperation. Habeck, who is also Germany’s Vice-Chancellor, has appointed former state secretary Rainer Baake as special commissioner for the German-Namibian climate and energy cooperation in July.

Germany’s commissioner Rainer Baake visited Namibia. Photo: Baake family

During his 10-day visit to Namibia, Baake discussed the establishment of a green hydrogen economy with the Namibian government. He paid a courtesy call to President Hage Geingob and attended a session of the Namibian cabinet. His meetings primarily focused on the implementation of the project planned by Namibia to manufacture green ammonia in the south of the country.

Baake also travelled to the Tsau Khaeb National Park in southern Namibia, where the country’s first green hydrogen plant will be situated.


European Union plans green hydrogen agreement with Namibia


The European Union (EU) plans to support Namibia's green hydrogen sector. EU and Namibian officials say this step is to reduce Europe’s dependence on Russian energy. The director general of Namibia’s National Planning Commission (NPC), Obeth Kandjoze, confirmed that an agreement with the EU is on the cards with regard to green hydrogen. An EU official said that as part of the plan, the EU would sign an agreement with Namibia on hydrogen at the next UN Climate Conference in Egypt in November. The agreement could attract investors and financing through green bonds. The EU officer also said that the Union is also planning to access minerals in Namibia.


Google’s Equiano cable lands at Swakopmund


Namibians and tourists alike will soon enjoy improved and much faster internet connectivity towards year-end. The Equiano subsea cable has landed at Swakopmund on 1 July. As part of Google’s commitment to support Africa’s digital transformation it has invested in the Equiano cable since 2019 to connect Europe and Africa via the subsea cable along the west coast from Portugal to South Africa.

The Equiano subsea cable will provide communications diversity due to its increased capacity and this will have a direct impact on connectivity with faster internet speeds, more flexibility in the market and an improved user experience for consumers in Namibia and beyond.

The CEO of the Paratus-Group Barney Harmse at the landing of the Equiano subsea cable. Photo: PhilBE2

Once Equiano becomes fully operational in the fourth quarter this year, “it is expected to deliver up to 20 times more capacity than was previously available in Namibia”, the government company Telecom Namibia, announced.

Internet speeds are expected to increase by over 2.5 times; increase internet penetration by 7.5 percent in the next three years and are said to act as a catalyst for considerable growth, job creation and sustainability.

Until now, Namibia relied on the West Africa Cable System (WACS) for its international connectivity.

Telecom Namibia expects that until 2025 some 21,000 indirect jobs will be created as a result of the expansion of the digital economy and associated business sectors.


First data centre in Namibia opens in August


The local telecommunications company Paratus, which collaborated with Telecom Namibia to bring Equiano to shore and built the cable landing station at Swakopmund, has completed the constructions of Namibia’s first data centre outside Windhoek. Aptly dubbed Armada, the data centre provides the latest physical and virtual security and the highest possible uptime. It will also offer businesses a colocation solution with a resilient infrastructure environment for clients to host their equipment in. Paratus already has two data centres in Angola and one in Zambia, which will be linked to Armada and through that to the Equiano cable.


New diamond cutting and polishing factory


A new diamond cutting and polishing factory in Namibia, Finestar Jewellery & Diamonds Namibia, announced plans in July to set up a global marketing centre in less than six months. Finestar bring in additional technicians for the beneficiation of diamonds, to have each diamond processed and polished locally. Finestar already buys a portion of its rough diamonds from the state-owned company Namdia.

“We are also in the process of setting up a global marketing centre where Namibians will be trained and get the opportunity to market stones globally that are mined and manufactured from their soil,” said Gaurav Jain, the director of Finestar.

Locally polished diamonds are accompanied by a document highlighting the importance of beneficiation and leaving a lasting impression in every consumer’s mind for Namibian diamonds.

“To ensure that its voice is being heard globally, every stone processed in Namibia has a “Made in Namibia logo” and “Meet the Artisan” [who polished the stone] certificate that highlights the beauty and people of Namibia,” said Jain.

Finestar has introduced the ‘artisan initiative’ for its diamonds manufactured in Namibia and Botswana, to promote and showcase the artisan as the real hero in the process of manufacturing diamonds.

Finestar says it is the only diamond cutting and polishing factory in Namibia that utilises the “Synova DaVinci Diamond” factory system. This is a fully automated laser machine with a combination of cutting and faceting diamonds.

Brigitte Weidlich

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