JEWISH AND KOSHER NAMIBIA:
The Windhoek Synagogue,
Namibia - 1950's.
PO Box 140, Windhoek, c/o: Mr L Pieters
Tel: (09264) 81128-8852, 2761 221990
Fax. 2761 226444
Jewish community’s lay leader
Zvi Gorelick, firstname.lastname@example.org
00264 081 127 0800
Last updated: March 25, 2013
Please update us!
Most of Namibia's Jews are
residents of Windhoek. The Windhoek Hebrew
Congregation has maintained a synagogue since 1924,
in which regular shabbat and holiday services are
conducted. The South African Jewish Board of
Deputies provides a chazan for the festivals.
The children receive religious
education from their mothers, who are assisted by
Cape Board of Jewish Education in South Africa.
There have been manifestations of anti-Semitism on
the part of certain elements of the country's large
A Jew in an isolated area of
Namibia left instructions that some Hebrew words be
inscribed on his tombstone. His survivors only found
one object with Hebrew letters and therefore the
inscription on his tombstone reads: "Here lies Peter
Cohen, Kosher-le-Pesach (kosher for Passover).
is the richest man in Namibia 2011.
(born 14 July, 1915) is a
entrepreneur and member of the
President's Economic Advisory Council.
He is the Executive Chairman of
Pupkewitz Holdings, a group of builders’
merchants, car sale businesses, and a
host of other enterprises, since its
foundation in 1946. Pupkewitz directed
the boards of several important Namibian
companies, among them
and served as president of a number of
high-profile political and economical
Israel and Namibia
established diplomatic relations
in 1994. Israel is represented
by its ambassador in Zimbabwe.
Namibia, officially the
Republic of Namibia (Afrikaans:
Republiek van Namibië,
is a country in
southern Africa whose
western border is the
Atlantic Ocean. It shares
land borders with
Zambia to the north,
Botswana to the east and
South Africa to the south
and east. It gained independence from South Africa on 21
March 1990, following the
Namibian War of Independence.
Its capital and largest city is
Windhoek. Namibia is a
member state of the
United Nations (UN), the
Southern African Development Community
African Union (AU), and the
Commonwealth of Nations.
The dry lands of Namibia were inhabited
since early times by
Namaqua, and since about
the 14th century AD by immigrating
Bantu who came with the
Bantu expansion. It
protectorate in 1884 and remained a German colony until
the end of
World War I. In 1920, the
League of Nations mandated
the country to South Africa, which imposed its laws and,
from 1948, its
In 1966, uprisings and demands
by African leaders led the UN to assume direct
responsibility over the territory. It recognized the
South West Africa People’s
Organization (SWAPO) as the official
representative of the Namibian people in 1973. Namibia,
however, remained under South African administration during
this time. Following internal violence, South Africa
installed an interim administration in Namibia in 1985.
Namibia obtained full independence from South Africa in 1990,
with the exception of
Walvis Bay and the
Penguin Islands, which
remained under South African control until 1994.
Namibia has a population of
2.1 million people and a stable
tourism and the
mining industry – including
mining for gem diamonds,
base metals – form the
Namibia's economy. After
Mongolia it is the second
least densely populated
country in the world. Approximately half the population
live below the international poverty line, and the
nation has suffered heavily from the effects of
HIV/AIDS, with 15% of the
adult population infected with HIV in 2007.
The name of the country is derived from
Namib Desert, considered to be the oldest desert in the
Sand dunes in
Namibia - 29 August 2003. Author:
Area: 823,145 sq. km. (320,827 sq.
mi.); the size of Texas and Louisiana combined.
Cities: Capital--Windhoek (2001 census) pop. 233,529. Other
cities--Grootfontein, Katima Mulilo, Keetmanshoop, Luderitz,
Ondangwa, Oranjemund, Oshakati, Otjiwarongo, Swakopmund, Tsumeb, Walvis
Terrain: Varies from coastal desert to semiarid mountains and plateau.
Climate: Semidesert and high plateau.
Namibia has more than 300 days of
sunshine per year. It is situated at the southern edge of
the tropics; the
Tropic of Capricorn cuts
the country about in half. The winter (June – August) is
generally dry, both rainy seasons occur in summer, the small
rainy season between September and November, the big one
between February and April.
Humidity is low, and average rainfall
varies from almost zero in the
coastal desert to more than
600 mm in the
Caprivi Strip. Rainfall is
however highly variable, and droughts are common.
Weather and climate in the coastal
area are dominated by the cold, north-flowing
Benguela current of the
Atlantic Ocean which accounts for very low
precipitation (50 mm per
year or less), frequent dense fog, and overall lower
temperatures than in the rest of the country.
In Winter, occasionally a condition
Bergwind or Oosweer
East weather) occurs, a hot dry wind blowing from the inland
to the coast. As the area behind the coast is a desert,
these winds can develop into sand storms with sand deposits
in the Atlantic Ocean visible on satellite images.
The Central Plateau and Kalahari areas
diurnal temperature ranges
of up to 30C.
Nationality: Noun and adjective--Namibian(s).
Population (2010 est.): 2.3 million.
Average annual population growth rate (2001 est.): 2.6%. The population
growth rate is depressed by an HIV/AIDS prevalence rate estimated to be
17.8%. (Source: UNAIDS Namibia 2010 Country Progress Report)
Ethnic groups: About 50% of the population belong to Ovambo ethnic
group, and 9% to the Kavango ethnic group. Other ethnic groups are:
Herero 7%, Damara 7%, Nama 5%, Caprivian 4%, San 3%, Baster 2%, and
Religions: Predominantly Christian; also Muslim, Jewish, Baha’i, and
Languages: English (official); Oshivambo, Afrikaans, German, Herero,
Nama/Damara, other indigenous languages.
Education: Years compulsory--to age 16. Primary school
attendance (2005-2009)--89%. Adult literacy rate
Work force (2008): 678,681.
Independence: March 21, 1990.
Branches: Executive--president (elected for 5-year term), prime
minister. Legislative--bicameral Parliament: National Assembly
and National Council. Judicial--Supreme Court, the High Court,
and lower courts.
Subdivisions: 13 administrative regions.
Registered political parties: South West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO),
Democratic Turnhalle Alliance (DTA), United Democratic Front of Namibia
(UDF), Congress of Democrats (COD), Republican Party (RP), National
Unity Democratic Organization (NUDO), Monitor Action Group (MAG), Rally
for Democracy and Progress (RDP), South West African National Union (SWANU),
All People’s Party (APP), Democratic Party of Namibia (DPN), Namibia
Democratic Movement for Change (NDMC).
Suffrage: Universal adult.
GDP (2009): $9.4 billion. (World Bank)
Annual growth rate (2009): 1%. (World Bank)
Per capita GNI (2009): $4,338. (World Bank)
Average annual inflation rate (2010): 4.5%. (Namibia Central Bureau of
Natural resources: Diamonds, uranium, zinc, gold, copper, lead, tin,
fluorspar, salt, fisheries, and wildlife.
Agriculture (5.1% of GDP, 2009): Products--livestock and meat
products, crop farming and forestry. (Namibia Central Bureau of
Mining (10% of GDP, 2009): Gem-quality diamonds, uranium, zinc, copper,
other. (Namibia Central Bureau of Statistics)
Fishing and fish processing on board (3.6% of GDP, 2009): Hake, horse
mackerel, lobster, other. (Namibia Central Bureau of Statistics)
Trade: Exports (2010)--$5.71 billion: diamonds, uranium, zinc,
copper, lead, beef, cattle, fish, karakul pelts, grapes. Imports
(2010)--$5.14 billion: foodstuffs, construction material, manufactured
goods. Major partners--South Africa, Angola, European Union (EU),
U.S., Canada, China, India. (World Trade Organization)
Namibia’s economy is tied closely to
South Africa’s due to their shared history. The
largest economic sectors are mining (10.4% of the gross
domestic product in 2009), agriculture (5.0%), manufacturing
(13.5%), and tourism.
Namibia has a highly developed banking
sector with modern infrastructure, such as Online Banking,
Cellphone Banking etc. The Bank of Namibia (BoN) is the
central bank of Namibia responsible to perform all other
functions ordinarily performed by a central bank. There are
four BoN authorised commercial banks in Namibia: Bank
Windhoek, First National Bank, Nedbank & Standard Bank.
Namibia has a high unemployment rate.
"Strict unemployment" (people actively seeking a full time
job) stood at 20.2% in 2000, 21.9% in 2004 and spiraled to
29.4 per cent in 2008. Under a broader definition (including
people that have given up searching for employment)
unemployment rose from 36.7% in 2004 to 51.2% in 2008. This
estimate considers people in the
informal economy as
employed. The study that arrived at these results has been
hailed "by far superior in scope and quality to any that has
been available previously" by Labour and Social Welfare
Approximately half the population live
below the international poverty line of U.S.$1.25 a day.
There is a number of legislative measures in place to
alleviate poverty and unemployment. In 2004 a labour act was
passed to protect people from job discrimination stemming
from pregnancy and HIV/AIDS status. In early 2010 the
tender board announced that
"henceforth 100 per cent of all unskilled and semi-skilled
labour must be sourced, without exception, from within
Namibians are of diverse ethnic origins. The principal groups are the
Ovambo, Kavango, Herero/Himba, Damara, Colored (including Rehoboth
Baster), White (Afrikaner, German, English, and Portuguese), Nama,
Caprivian, San, and Tswana.
The Ovambo make up about half of Namibia's people. The Ovambo, Kavango,
and East Caprivian peoples, who occupy the relatively well-watered and
wooded northern part of the country, are settled farmers and herders.
Historically, these groups had little contact with the Nama, Damara, and
Herero, who roamed the central part of the country vying for control of
sparse pastureland. German colonial rule destroyed the war-making
ability of the tribes but did not erase their identities or traditional
organization. People from the more populous north have settled
throughout the country in recent decades as a result of urbanization,
industrialization, and the demand for labor.
Missionary work during the 1800s drew many Namibians to Christianity.
While most Namibian Christians are Lutheran, there also are Roman
Catholic, Methodist, Anglican, Jewish, African Methodist Episcopal, and
Dutch Reformed Christians represented.
Education and services have been extended in varying degrees to most
rural areas in recent years. Although the national literacy rate is
quite high (estimated to be 88%), it is important to note that the
number of Namibians that are functionally literate and have the skills
that the labor market needs is significantly lower.
The San are generally assumed to have been the earliest inhabitants of
the region. Later inhabitants include the Nama and the Damara or Berg
Dama. The Bantu-speaking Ovambo and Herero migrated from the north in
about the 14th century A.D.
The inhospitable Namib Desert constituted a formidable barrier to
European exploration until the late 18th century, when successions of
travelers, traders, hunters, and missionaries explored the area. In
1878, the United Kingdom annexed Walvis Bay on behalf of Cape Colony,
and the area was incorporated into the Cape of Good Hope in 1884. In
1883, a German trader, Adolf Luderitz, claimed the rest of the coastal
region after negotiations with a local chief. Negotiations between the
United Kingdom and Germany resulted in Germany's annexation of the
coastal region, excluding Walvis Bay. The following year, the United
Kingdom recognized the hinterland up to 20 degrees east longitude as a
German sphere of influence. A region later known as the Caprivi Strip
became a part of South West Africa after an agreement on July 1, 1890,
between the United Kingdom and Germany. The British recognized that the
strip would fall under German administration to provide access to the
Zambezi River and German colonies in East Africa. In exchange, the
British received the islands of Zanzibar and Heligoland.
German colonial power was consolidated, and prime grazing land passed to
white control as a result of the Herero and Nama wars of 1904-08. German
administration ended during World War I following South African
occupation in 1915.
On December 17, 1920, South Africa undertook administration of South
West Africa under the terms of Article 22 of the Covenant of the League
of Nations and a mandate agreement by the League Council. The mandate
agreement gave South Africa full power of administration and legislation
over the territory. It required that South Africa promote the material
and moral well-being and social progress of the people.
When the League of Nations was dissolved in 1946, the newly formed
United Nations inherited its supervisory authority for the territory.
South Africa refused UN requests to place the territory under a
trusteeship agreement. During the 1960s, as the European powers granted
independence to their colonies and trust territories in Africa, pressure
mounted on South Africa to do so in Namibia, which was then known as
South West Africa. In 1966, the UN General Assembly revoked South
Also in 1966, the South West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO) began
its armed struggle to liberate Namibia, in part from bases abroad. After
Angola became independent in 1975, SWAPO established bases in the
southern part of that country. Hostilities intensified over the years,
particularly in the north.
In a 1971 advisory opinion, the International Court of Justice upheld UN
authority over Namibia, determining that the South African presence in
Namibia was illegal and that South Africa therefore was obligated to
withdraw its administration from Namibia immediately. The Court also
advised UN member states to refrain from implying legal recognition or
assistance to the South African presence.
International Pressure for Independence
In 1977, Western members of the UN Security Council, including Canada,
France, the Federal Republic of Germany, the United Kingdom, and the
United States (known as the Western Contact Group), launched a joint
diplomatic effort to bring an internationally acceptable transition to
independence for Namibia. Their efforts led to the presentation in April
1978 of Security Council Resolution 435 for settling the Namibian
problem. The proposal, known as the UN Plan, was worked out after
lengthy consultations with South Africa, the front-line states (Angola,
Botswana, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe), SWAPO, UN
officials, and the Western Contact Group. It called for the holding of
elections in Namibia under UN supervision and control, the cessation of
all hostile acts by all parties, and restrictions on the activities of
South African and Namibian military, paramilitary, and police.
South Africa agreed to cooperate in achieving the implementation of
Resolution 435. Nonetheless, in December 1978, in defiance of the UN
proposal, it unilaterally held elections in Namibia that were boycotted
by SWAPO and a few other political parties. South Africa continued to
administer Namibia through its installed multiracial coalitions.
Negotiations after 1978 focused on issues such as supervision of
elections connected with the implementation of the UN Plan.
Negotiations and Transition
Intense discussions between the concerned parties continued during the
1978-88 period, with the UN Secretary General's Special Representative,
Martti Ahtisaari, playing a key role. The 1982 Constitutional
Principles, agreed upon by the front-line states, SWAPO, and the Western
Contact Group created the framework for Namibia's democratic
In May 1988, a U.S. mediation team, headed by Assistant Secretary of
State for African Affairs Chester A. Crocker, brought negotiators from
Angola, Cuba, and South Africa, and observers from the Soviet Union
together in London. Intense diplomatic maneuvering characterized the
next 7 months, as the parties worked out agreements to bring peace to
the region and make implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 435
possible. On December 13, Cuba, South Africa, and the People's Republic
of Angola agreed to a total Cuban troop withdrawal from Angola. The
protocol also established a Joint Commission, consisting of the parties
with the United States and the Soviet Union as observers, to oversee
implementation of the accords. A bilateral agreement between Cuba and
the People's Republic of Angola was signed in New York on December 22,
1988. On the same day a tripartite agreement, in which the parties
recommended initiation of the UN Plan on April 1 and the Republic of
South Africa agreed to withdraw its troops, was signed. Implementation
of Resolution 435 officially began on April 1, 1989, when South
African-appointed Administrator Gen. Louis Pienaar officially began
administrating the territory's transition to independence. Special
Representative Martti Ahtisaari arrived in Windhoek to begin performing
his duties as head of the UN Transition Assistance Group (UNTAG).
The transition got off to a shaky start on April 1 because, in
contravention to SWAPO President Sam Nujoma's written assurances to the
UN Secretary General to abide by a cease-fire and repatriate only
unarmed insurgents, about 2,000 armed members of the People's Liberation
Army of Namibia (PLAN), SWAPO's military wing, crossed the border from
Angola. The Special Representative authorized a limited contingent of
South African troops to aid the South West African police in restoring
order. A period of intense fighting followed, during which 375 PLAN
fighters were killed. At Mt. Etjo, a game park outside Windhoek, in a
special meeting of the Joint Commission on April 9, a plan was put in
place to confine the South African forces to base and return PLAN
elements to Angola. While the problem was solved, minor disturbances in
the north continued throughout the transition period. In October, under
order of the UN Security Council, Pretoria demobilized members of the
disbanded counterinsurgency unit, Koevoet (Afrikaans for "crowbar"), who
had been incorporated into the South West African police.
The 11-month transition period went relatively smoothly. Political
prisoners were granted amnesty, discriminatory legislation was repealed,
South Africa withdrew all its forces from Namibia, and some 42,000
refugees returned safely and voluntarily under the auspices of the
Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Almost 98% of
registered voters turned out to elect members of the Constituent
Assembly. The elections were held in November 1989 and were certified as
free and fair by the Special Representative, with SWAPO taking 57% of
the vote, just short of the two-thirds necessary to have a free hand in
drafting the constitution. The Democratic Turnhalle Alliance, the
opposition party, received 29% of the vote. The Constituent Assembly
held its first meeting on November 21 and its first act unanimously
resolved to use the 1982 Constitutional Principles as the framework for
Namibia's new constitution.
By February 9, 1990, the Constituent Assembly had drafted and adopted a
constitution. March 21, independence day, was attended by Secretary of
State James A. Baker III, who represented President George H.W. Bush. On
that same day, he inaugurated the U.S. Embassy in Windhoek in
recognition of the establishment of diplomatic relations.
On March 1, 1994, the coastal enclave of Walvis Bay and 12 offshore
islands were transferred to Namibia by South Africa. This followed 3
years of bilateral negotiations between the two governments and the
establishment of a transitional Joint Administrative Authority (JAA) in
November 1992 to administer the 300-square mile territory. The peaceful
resolution of this territorial dispute, which dated back to 1878, was
praised by the United States and the international community, as it
fulfilled the provisions of UN Security Council 432 (1978) which
declared Walvis Bay to be an integral part of Namibia.
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
Namibia is a multiparty, multiracial democracy, with a president who is
elected for 5-year term. The constitution establishes a bicameral
Parliament and provides for general elections every 5 years and regional
elections every 6 years. Members of the 72-seat National Assembly are
elected on a party list system on a proportional basis. Members of the
26-seat National Council are elected from within popularly elected
Regional Councils. The three branches of government are subject to
checks and balances, and provision is made for judicial review. The
judicial structure in Namibia comprises a Supreme Court, the High Court,
and lower courts. Roman-Dutch law has been the common law of the
territory since 1919. Namibia's unitary government is currently in the
process of decentralization.
The constitution provides for the private ownership of property and for
human rights protections, and states that Namibia should have a mixed
economy and encourage foreign investment.
Sam Nujoma, leader of the South West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO),
was President from Namibia's independence in 1990 until 2005. In
November 2004, citizens elected Minister of Lands, Resettlement and
Rehabilitation Hifikepunye Pohamba to be the next President. Pohamba was
re-elected in November 2009 for his second and final term in office. The
inauguration was held in March 2010, in conjunction with celebrations
marking the country's 20th anniversary.
Namibia's 2009 presidential and parliamentary elections were held on
November 27-28. The Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) released the
official results on December 4. The ruling SWAPO party and incumbent
President Pohamba won with 75% and 76% respectively. The Rally for
Democracy and Progress (RDP) won 11 % of the vote, the most by a single
opposition party. While some procedural irregularities were observed,
international and domestic observers pronounced the elections to be
generally free and fair. The RDP, along with eight other opposition
parties, however, claimed that ECN manipulated the election results and
challenged the results in the High Court. On March 4, 2010, the High
Court dismissed the petition on a technicality, but the opposition
parties appealed to the Supreme Court. On September 6, 2010, the Supreme
Court unanimously decided to return the case to the High Court, where
its merits were heard. On February 14, 2011, the High Court ruled that
the opposition did not show enough evidence that the elections had been
fraudulent. However, the court criticized the Electoral Commission of
Namibia for conducting elections in a manner that could arouse
suspicion. The opposition parties announced in February that they will
appeal the High Court’s ruling to the Supreme Court.
With 54 seats, SWAPO retained its two-thirds majority in the new
Parliament, which was sworn in March 21, 2010. The RDP, which won eight
seats; the Democratic Turnhalle Alliance (DTA), which won two seats; and
the Republican Party, which won one seat, boycotted the swearing-in
ceremony and remain outside Parliament while the appeal is unresolved.
The Congress of Democrats (CoD), the United Democratic Front (UDF),
Namibian Unity Democratic Organization (NUDO), All Peoples Party (APP),
and South West Africa National Union (SWANU) are represented in the
Principal Government Officials
Prime Minister--Nahas Angula
Deputy Prime Minister--Marco Hausiku
National Assembly Speaker--Theo-Ben Gurirab
National Council Chairperson--Asser Kapere
Minister of Foreign Affairs--Utoni Nujoma
Minister for Presidential Affairs--Albert Kawana
Minister of Defense--Major General Charles Namoloh
National Planning Commission Director--Tom Alweendo
Namibia Central Intelligence Service Director--Lukas Hangula
Minister of Education--Abraham Iyambo
Minister of Finance--Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila
Minister of Safety and Security--Nangolo Mbumba
Minister of Trade and Industry--Hage Geingob
Minister of Home Affairs and Immigration--Rosalia Nghindinwa
Minister of Information and Communication Technology--Joel Kaapanda
Minister of Justice--Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana
Minster of Mines and Energy--Isak Katali
Minister of Labor and Social Welfare--Immanuel Ngatjizeko
Minister of Health and Social Service--Richard Kamwi
Minister of Agriculture, Water, and Forestry--John Mutorwa
Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources--Bernard Esau
Minister of Environment and Tourism--Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah
Minister of Lands and Resettlement--Alpheus Naruseb
Minister of Regional and Local Government and Housing--Jerry Ekandjo
Minister of Works and Transport--Erkki Nghimtina
Minister of Gender Equality and Child Welfare--Doreen Sioka
Minister of Youth, National Service, Sport, and Culture--Kazenambo
Ambassador to UN--Wilfred Emvula
Ambassador to U.S.--Martin Andjaba
Namibia maintains an
embassy in the United States at 1605 New Hampshire Ave., NW,
Washington DC 20009 (tel: (202) 986-0540; fax: (202) 986-0443).
The Namibian economy has a modern market sector, which produces most of
the country's wealth, and a traditional subsistence sector. Namibia's
gross domestic product (GDP) per capita is relatively high among
developing countries but obscures one of the most unequal income
distributions on the African continent. Although the majority of the
population depends on subsistence agriculture and herding, Namibia has
more than 200,000 skilled workers, as well as a small, well-trained
professional and managerial class.
The country's sophisticated formal economy is based on capital-intensive
industry and farming. However, Namibia's economy is heavily dependent on
the earnings generated from primary commodity exports in a few vital
sectors, including minerals, livestock, and fish. Furthermore, the
Namibian economy remains integrated with the economy of South Africa, as
the bulk of Namibia's imports originate there.
Since independence, the Namibian Government has pursued free-market
economic principles designed to promote commercial development and job
creation to bring disadvantaged Namibians into the economic mainstream.
To facilitate this goal, the government has actively courted donor
assistance and foreign investment. The liberal Foreign Investment Act of
1990 provides for freedom from nationalization, freedom to remit capital
and profits, currency convertibility, and a process for settling
Namibia is part of the Common Monetary Area (CMA) comprising Lesotho,
Swaziland, and South Africa. Both the South African rand and the
Namibian dollar are legal tender in Namibia, but the Namibian dollar is
not accepted in South Africa. As a result of the CMA agreement, the
scope for independent monetary policy in Namibia is limited. The Bank of
Namibia regularly follows actions taken by the South African central
Given its small domestic market but favorable location and a superb
transport and communications base, Namibia is a leading advocate of
regional economic integration. In addition to its membership in the
Southern African Development Community (SADC), Namibia presently belongs
to the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) with South Africa,
Botswana, Lesotho, and Swaziland. Within SACU, no tariffs exist on goods
produced in and moving among the member states. In July 2008, SACU
signed a Trade, Investment and Development Cooperation Agreement (TIDCA)
with the United States. SACU also has plans to negotiate free trade
agreements with China, India, Kenya, and Nigeria. The SACU Secretariat
is located in Windhoek.
Over 80% of Namibia's imports originate in South Africa, and many
Namibian exports are destined for the South African market or transit
that country. Outside of South Africa, the EU (primarily the U.K.) is
the chief market for Namibian exports. Namibia's exports consist mainly
of diamonds and other minerals, fish products, beef and meat products,
grapes and light manufactures.
Namibia is seeking to diversify its trading relationships away from its
heavy dependence on South African goods and services. Europe has become
a leading market for Namibian fish and meat, while mining concerns in
Namibia have purchased heavy equipment and machinery from Germany,
Italy, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada. Namibia is an
eligible country under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA),
but has had limited success with exports under this program.
In 1993, Namibia became a General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)
signatory, and the Minister of Trade and Industry represented Namibia at
the Marrakech signing of the Uruguay Round Agreement in April 1994.
Namibia has been a member of the World Trade Organization since its
creation in 1995 and is a strong proponent of the Doha Development
Agenda announced at the Fourth Ministerial Conference in Doha, Qatar, in
November 2001. Namibia also is a member of the International Monetary
Fund and the World Bank. In December 2007 Namibia initialed an interim
Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union, but has
not yet signed the interim agreement. The EPA provides duty- and limited
quota-free access to European markets for Namibian exports, thereby
continuing many of the expiring trade benefits from the Cotonou
Agreement. Negotiations continue over the new EPA.
State-owned enterprises operate in many key sectors of the Namibian
economy. The government has stakes (often 100% ownership) in companies
in the following sectors: telecommunications (fixed and mobile voice and
data services), energy, water, transport (air, rail, and road), postal
services, fishing, mining, and tourism.
Mining and Energy
As was the case for many countries, Namibia’s extractive industries,
particularly the diamond industry, experienced a significant decline due
to the recent global economic downturn, although uranium was an
exception. Mining contributed approximately 10% of GDP in 2009. While
Namibia recovered over 2 million carats of diamonds in 2008, it mined
only 929,000 carats in 2009, a 58% drop in production. Diamond mining
rebounded in 2010, with close to 1.5 million carats recovered. Namibia
is the world’s fourth-largest producer of uranium oxide, representing
approximately 10% of global uranium production. Namibia has two
operational uranium mines. Two or three new uranium mines may open over
the next 5 years. Other important mineral resources are zinc, copper,
lead, gold, fluorspar, and salt. The country also is a source of natural
stones such as granite and marble. Semiprecious stones are mined on a
During the pre-independence period, large areas of Namibia, including
offshore, were leased for oil prospecting. Natural gas was discovered in
1974 in the Kudu Field off the mouth of the Orange River. The field is
thought to contain reserves of over 1.3 trillion cubic feet. In 2009,
the government announced changes to the ownership structure of the Kudu
project. Tullow Oil Plc, which had owned 70% of the Kudu gas field, saw
its stake drop to 31%. Japanese firm Itochu Corporation, which owned 20%
in the project, now owns 15%. The Namibian Government through state
petroleum firm NAMCOR has partnered with the Russian firm Gazprom to
take a 54% stake in Kudu. NAMCOR had previously held a 10% interest.
Plans are also underway to build the country's first combined cycle
power station near Oranjemund. With power shortages facing the Southern
African region, the government has stated its commitment to develop the
Kudu gas field. However, supply of electricity in the short to medium
term remains a challenge.
Namibia has a well-developed legislative framework governing the
upstream and downstream oil business. Currently there are eight
companies exploring for oil and gas.
Although Namibian agriculture--excluding fishing--contributed between 5%
and 6% of Namibia's GDP for the past 5 years, a large percentage of the
Namibian population depends on agricultural activities for livelihood,
mostly in the subsistence sector. Animal products, live animals, and
crop exports constituted roughly 10.7% of total Namibian exports. The
government encourages local sourcing of agriculture products. Retailers
of fruits, vegetables, and other crop products must purchase 27.5% of
their stock from local farmers.
In the largely white-dominated commercial sector, agriculture consists
primarily of livestock ranching. Cattle raising is predominant in the
central and northern regions, while karakul sheep and goat farming are
concentrated in the more arid southern regions. Subsistence farming is
mainly confined to the "communal lands" of the country's populous north,
where roaming cattle herds are prevalent and the main crops are millet,
sorghum, corn, and peanuts. Table grapes, grown mostly along the Orange
River in the country's arid south, are becoming an increasingly
important commercial crop and a significant employer of seasonal labor.
The government's land reform policy is shaped by two key pieces of
legislation: the Agricultural (Commercial) Land Reform Act 6 of 1995 and
the Communal Land Reform Act 5 of 2002. The government remains committed
to a "willing seller, willing buyer" approach to land reform and to
providing just compensation as directed by the Namibian constitution. As
the government addresses the vital land and range management questions,
water use issues and availability are considered.
The clean, cold South Atlantic waters off the coast of Namibia are home
to some of the richest fishing grounds in the world, with the potential
for sustainable yields of up to 1.5 million metric tons per year.
Commercial fishing and fish processing is one of the significant sectors
of the Namibian economy in terms of employment, export earnings, and
contribution to GDP. In 2009, fishing contributed almost 3.6% of GDP,
while on-shore processing of fish products contributed another 1.4%. The
Namibian Government has actively pursued value-addition policies aimed
at increasing on-shore processing of fish products.
The main species found in abundance off Namibia are pilchards
(sardines), anchovy, hake, and horse mackerel. There also are smaller
but significant quantities of sole, squid, deep-sea crab, rock lobster,
and tuna. However, at the time of independence, fish stocks had fallen
to dangerously low levels due to the lack of protection and conservation
of the fisheries and the overexploitation of these resources. This trend
appears to have been halted and reversed since independence, as the
Namibian Government is now pursuing a conservative resource management
policy along with an aggressive fisheries enforcement campaign. Namibia
is a signatory to the Convention on Conservation and Management of
Fisheries Resources in the South-East Atlantic (Seafo Convention). The
country is also part of the Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem (BCLME)
program, which is designed to help the Governments of Namibia, Angola,
and South Africa manage their shared marine resources in an integrated
and sustainable way.
Manufacturing and Infrastructure
In 2009, Namibia's manufacturing sector (including meat and fish
processing) contributed about 13.5% of GDP. Namibian manufacturing has
historically been inhibited by a small domestic market, dependence on
imported goods, limited supply of local capital, widely dispersed
population, small skilled labor force and high relative wage rates, and
subsidized competition from South Africa.
Walvis Bay has a well-developed, deepwater port, considered by many one
of the best in Western Africa, and Namibia's fishing infrastructure is
most heavily concentrated there. The Namibian Government expects Walvis
Bay to become an important commercial gateway to the Southern African
region. However, government officials acknowledge that many segments of
Namibia’s more than 2,300 kilometers of rail infrastructure require
urgent rehabilitation. Upgrades to Namibia’s rail infrastructure are
considered a critical element in the government’s plan to expand the
port of Walvis Bay.
Namibia also boasts modern civil aviation facilities and an extensive,
well-maintained land transportation network. Construction continues to
expand two major arteries--the Trans-Caprivi and Trans-Kalahari
Highways--which will further open up the region's access to Walvis Bay.
Tourism is a rapidly growing sector of the Namibian economy and a
significant generator of employment. It is the third-largest source of
foreign exchange after mining and fisheries. Although the majority of
Namibia's international visitors originate in the region, other
international travelers are increasingly attracted by the country's
unique mix of political stability, cultural diversity, and geographic
beauty. Tourism in Namibia has had a positive impact on resource
conservation and rural development. As of 2007, there were 50 communal
conservancies established across the country, resulting in enhanced land
management while providing tens of thousands of rural Namibians with
much needed income.
While most Namibians are economically active in one form or another, the
bulk of this activity is in the informal sector, primarily subsistence
agriculture. In the formal economy, the official estimate of
unemployment is 51.2% of the work force. In March 2011, the government
introduced a 3-year budget that contains significant (30%) additional
spending over prior years with a focus on public works and
infrastructure to stimulate economic growth and generate employment
opportunities, primarily for Namibia’s unskilled workers. A large number
of Namibians seeking jobs in the formal sector are held back due to a
lack of necessary skills or training. The government is aggressively
pursuing education reform to address this problem.
There are two main trade union federations in Namibia representing
workers: the National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW), which is
affiliated with the ruling SWAPO party, and the Trade Union Congress of
Namibia (TUCNA), which is not affiliated with any party. A new labor law
went into effect in November 2008. The new law prohibited employers from
using “labor hire” (third-party hiring of temporary or contract
workers); however, the Supreme Court declared this provision
unconstitutional in December 2009.
The constitution defines the role of the military as "defending the
territory and national interests." Following independence, Namibia
formed the National Defense Force (NDF), comprised of former enemies in
a 23-year bush war, the PLAN and South West African territorial force.
The NDF consists of five battalions and a small headquarters element.
The NDF has a modest air wing and a maritime wing. Namibia contributed
900 troops to UN peacekeeping efforts in Liberia.
Namibia has had defense cooperation at various levels with several
countries, including the United States. It also participates in regional
peacekeeping efforts. The U.S. does not have an Article 98 agreement
Namibia follows a largely independent foreign policy, but has close
relations with states that aided its independence struggle, including
the People's Republic of China, Russia, and Cuba.
Namibia is developing trade and strengthening economic and political
ties within the Southern African region. As a member of the Southern
African Development Community (SADC) and the Southern African Customs
Union (SACU), Namibia is a vocal advocate for greater regional
Namibia became the 160th member of the United Nations on April 23, 1990,
and the 50th member of the British Commonwealth upon independence.
U.S.-Namibian relations are good and continue to improve. Characterized
by shared democratic values, commitment to rule of law, and respect for
human rights, the bilateral relationship has been strengthened through
trade ties and U.S.-Namibian partnerships. Namibia is a focus country
under the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), and on
September 3, 2010 the United States and Namibia signed a PEPFAR
Partnership Framework. Since 2004, PEPFAR assistance to Namibia has
exceeded $300 million. A $304 million Millennium Challenge Account
Compact entered into force on September 16, 2009. On average, there are
128 Peace Corps Volunteers in country. The Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention, Department of Defense, and Treasury Department also are
represented in Windhoek.
Principal U.S. Embassy Officials
Ambassador--Wanda L. Nesbitt
Deputy Chief of Mission--Ava Rogers
Public Affairs Officer--Anthony Deaton
Political Officer--Emily Plumb
Economic/Commercial Officer--Frank DeParis
Consular Officer--Charles Jarrett
USAID Director--Debra Mosel (acting)
CDC Director--Jeff Hanson
Defense Attache--Major Cheryl Korver, U.S. Army
Peace Corps Country Director--Gilbert Collins
The U.S. Embassy in
Namibia is located at 14 Lossen Street, Windhoek (tel. +264