Namibia is the fourth-largest exporter of non-fuel minerals in Africa, with this category contributing around half of all exports over the past decade. Namibia’s mining industry produces diamonds, uranium, copper, magnesium, zinc, silver, gold, lead, semi-precious stones and industrial minerals. However, diamonds and uranium still represent the country’s most salient commodities from an export revenue point of view.
Sound macroeconomic policies in addition to a stable political environment have contributed to the fact that Namibia has been able to record strong economic growth rates over the past decade. World Bank statistics suggest Namibian real GDP growth averaged 4.6% p.a. over the 2000-12 period. The mining and agricultural industries have traditionally been the main drivers of economic growth. Due to the central role of these industries, growth in Namibia is prone to influence from the global economy via its impact on mineral demand and prices, while domestic weather conditions influence farming activity. The latter was especially relevant in relation to Namibia’s economic growth in 2013, when a drought plagued the country. As a result, economic growth slowed, from 6.7% in 2012 to 4.4% in 2013. Namibia’s medium-term growth prospects look more promising, buoyed by construction requirements associated with several large-scale infrastructural initiatives such as the Walvis Bay expansion project and the construction of the Neckartal Dam. However, despite the country’s positive growth track record, socioeconomic challenges in relation to poverty, land redistribution, income inequality and high unemployment persist, while past policies aimed at addressing these issues have been mostly unsuccessful.