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Economy

Read More: Namibia Economy 2006 Overview

The Namibian economy rests on four pillars: mining, agriculture, fishery and tourism.

Mining generates about one third of the gross domestic product and the biggest portion of the income in foreign currency. Namibia is very rich in natural resources with some minerals occurring exclusively under Namibian soil. Out of a great variety of minerals, mainly diamonds, uranium, gold, silver, zinc, copper, lead, tin, marble and granite as well as semi-precious stones are being mined. Almost half of the revenue brought in from the export of mining products comes from diamonds alone. The company Namdeb - which partially belongs to the government as well as the South African De Beers group - runs big mining operations in Oranjemund and in Elizabeth Bay near Luederitz and produces over a million carats of diamonds annually.

The second-most important economic sector is agriculture. It only generates a small part of the GDP, but more than half of all the jobs are to be found in agriculture: characterised by poor wages. The approximate 4000 farms belong mostly to white farmers who farm cattle and sheep extensively and export the meat to South Africa. Some farms are successfully producing ostrich meat, mainly for export.

Due to the arid conditions in most parts of the country, crop-farming is found mainly in the Otavi/Tsumeb region, near Mariental at the Hardap Dam and - as subsistence farming - in the former Ovamboland region around Oshakati, where mainly millet and maize are being cultivated.

The Namibian waters are teeming in fish. In the seventies they were illegally overfished by foreign fishing fleets. But in 1990, Namibia proclaimed a 200-seamile-zone where only Namibian companies are allowed to fish. Since then the Namibian fishing industry - fish-processing and canneries included - has developed into an important economic contributor with good growth rates. It employs more than 15000 people, mainly in Walvis Bay and Luederitz. The largest portion of the catch is exported, mainly to Spain and Japan.

The tourism sector also registers a considerable growth rate since the Namibian independence. The annual number of visitors is nearing the one-million mark. A third of the visitors come from South Africa. The Germans hold the second place, followed by the British, Italians and French. Part of the state revenue from tourism flows into nature conservation.

The processing industry is of minor importance in Namibia. Besides canned meat and fish, beer and soft drinks, only raw materials are produced and exported. Almost all consumables and machinery have to be imported, mostly from South Africa, upon which Namibia is economically dependent. The Namibian currency, the Namibia Dollar (N$), is linked to the South African Rand (1:1), and Namibia has to follow the high-interest strategy of the South African Reserve Bank.

Namibia is - besides South Africa and Botswana - one of the richest countries in Africa. Nevertheless, the per-capita income only amounts to a mere 120 Euro per month, whereby the majority of the population has to cope with an even lesser income. Approximately 40% of the population capable to work are unemployed.

 

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