Some Major Sectors Show Growth

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By Wezi Tjaronda WINDHOEK The economic activities in some sectors showed an improvement in the fourth quarter of 2005, compared to the previous one. The Bank of Namibia’s Quarterly Bulletin released last week says that activities in mining and quarrying, wholesale, and the repairs and retail trade sectors recovered after growing slowly for the three preceding quarters of 2005. During the third quarter, the mining and quarrying sectors recorded a negative growth of 20.7 percent unlike the 15.1 percent growth it recorded in the fourth quarter. This increase is also an improvement compared to the one recorded at the same time in 2004. The developments in the sector showed recovery especially in some minerals, namely, diamonds, uranium, gold, zinc and marble, whose demand has been strong on the international markets, China being specific. Apart from these strong performances, other minerals such as lead, copper and silver performed weakly. According to the bulletin, which was launched last week by BoN Governor, Tom Alweendo, the turnaround in diamond production in the fourth quarter made a significant contribution to the mining and quarrying sectors. Diamond production increased by 7.7 percent unlike a negative growth of 30.8 percent it recorded in the preceding quarter. “Accounting for the increase in the diamond output was the general high demand for diamonds coupled with extra output from one diamond company which has been doing exploration during the greater part of the year,” the bulletin said. The increase in uranium production also supported a revival in the sector posting a growth of 36.1 percent during quarter four. The good performance of uranium is due to good prices for the metal in international markets as is the case for most base metals due to strong demand. The production of zinc and gold also accelerated in the fourth quarter in response to a surge in prices. While the output of zinc increased by 4.5 percent, gold accelerated by 27.5 percent during the quarter under review. The increased production in gold was a response to a surge in prices, which according to the bulletin reached the highest level in 2005 since 25 years ago. However, some base metals recorded a poor performance during the period under review because of the heavy rains that fell during the fourth quarter. Copper and silver were negatively affected by the rains, thus recording a slow growth of 10.1 percent compared to 20.0 percent in the third quarter for copper. The production of silver also decreased year on year by 1.5 percent compared to a growth of 38.5 percent in the receding quarter. The decline of the two base metals has been attributed to the time allocated to pump out water from the production areas due to the heavy rainfall in the final quarter last year. The wholesale, retail trade and repairs sectors also improved strongly in the final quarter of 2005, with a strong performance recorded in the clothing and the good sales in the food and supermarkets sub-sectors. The bulletin says the growth of clothing might have been enhanced by low prices as reflected by a contraction in inflation for the sub-sector. At the same time, the food and supermarket sub-sectors were in high demand during the festive season, explaining the growth in this sector. Other sectors, which although recording growth in the fourth quarter, slowed down compared to the preceding quarters, are agriculture, construction, transport, communication and producers of government services. The transport and communication sectors continued on the buoyant path but the growth of 17. 8 percent was lower than the one achieved in the preceding quarter of 23.3 percent. At the same time, in the previous year, the sector recorded a growth of 18.6 percent. Boosting the sector according to the bulletin is mobile telecommunications, which is growing very fast.