The role of Namibia’s geography is key to driving its economic growth and colour its tourist, energy, ICT and agricultural landscapes while consolidating the perks of added value.
Over the years Namibia has become the tourist destination of choice for many visitors and was even rated among the world’s top 30 emerging travel destinations for 2020. In 2018 alone, tourists increased to 1.5 million tourists, 3.9% more compared to 2017. Attracted to Namibia’s low population density, its dunes of Sossusvlei and its Fish River Canyon, an ever increasing number of foreign tourists arrive to the country, mainly via air, with Air Namibia topping the list by bringing in 41.1% of visitors in 2018. “Tourism in Namibia is mostly driven by our peace and stability; moreover, we have very attractive wildlife and landscapes and our policies for environmental protection and safety and security for tourists are good,” states Minister of Tourism and Environment, Hon. Pohamba Shifeta.
Indeed, the tourism sector’s contribution to the national GDP is demonstrative of its considerable potential for further growth while providing a plethora of job opportunities across the whole value chain. The launch of Walvis Bay Harbour’s new dedicated cruise passenger line terminal in 2019, has also opened up new channels for tourism. In January 2020, it was estimated that seven cruise liners with an estimated 10,000 passengers had arrived into the country.
Namibia is deeply committed to sustainable development and is the first country in the world to incorporate environmental protection into its constitution, hence the multitude of community based tourism initiatives and its deep dedication to biodiversity conservation. In its race to reduce electricity imports and in line to its pledge to the Paris Climate Agreement, Namibia has also been committed to its aim in developing solar PV, wind, biomass and storage technology. “We are trying to generate our electricity, and by 2030 we must have our electricity generated through green energy,” explains Hon. Shifeta. “Forty-two percent of Namibia’s landmass is protected, so we have decided to tap into the potential of south-coastal towns to produce wind energy.”
Namibia’s geographic position is also key to the value it places in the role it plays within Africa, as well as the bigger picture. An example of this is its ICT infrastructure, which was ranked as one of Africa’s best and provides connectivity to neighbouring countries. “Telecom Namibia continues to expand its national optic fibre coverage and upgrade its mobile network infrastructure to bridge the digital gap,” claims Armando Perny, Acting CEO of Telecom Namibia. “Telecom Namibia also provides data connectivity to neighbouring countries via the SAT3 and WACS submarine cables.” Namibia’s ICT sector is also on a mission for rapid technological growth, promoting ICT within higher education with coding as an essential part of the curricula.
According to Sven Thieme, Executive Director of O&L Group, Namibia’s future landscape will focus upon “food, health, education and water.” Agriculture contributes to approximately 5% of Namibia’s economy while farming contributes to nearly two-thirds of the population’s income and the importance of this data is something Namibia is intent on addressing. Ian Collard, CEO of Namib Mills claims: “African countries are very focused on food security. Namibia is currently a net importer, so we grow our business based on import substitution.” In 2019, Namibia was reported to have exported about 12,400 metric tonnes of meat to Norway, Britain, the European Union and Chinese markets.
Then, in February 2020, Namibia became the first African country to export red meat to the United States with state-owned Meatco’s shipment to Philadelphia of 25 tonnes of beef. Namibia expects to export a total of 860 tonnes of various beef cuts to the United States in 2020, with a projected rise to 5,000 tonnes by 2025. “We penetrate the most advanced markets, like the US and China because we have made serious investments in our infrastructure. We can provide the most sought after competitive beef, globally and internationally,” declares Mwilima Mushokabanji, CEO of MeatCo.
With so much to offer and so much potential to tap into, Namibia’s horizons are limitless. Like the expanse of its undulating sand dunes, Namibia proffers a geography that is both breathtakingly beautiful and one that bursts with immeasurable opportunity.