WINDHOEK – While the small Namibian market alone may not be an attractive enough investment destination for many internationally based businesses there are other factors that count in Namibia’s favour.
Among those is the combination of the quota-free Southern African Customs Union (SACU) and the Free Trade Protocol within the Southern African Development Community (SADC), which greatly increase the size of the available market to make Namibia an ideal destination for any investor. This was the message by the Minister of Trade and Industry, Calle Schlettwein, yesterday as he welcomed a high-level business delegation from the United States of America (USA) and Canada, who are visiting Namibia to explore trade and investment opportunities in the areas of information and communication technology, mining, health, construction, energy and low-cost housing.
The delegation is scheduled to conduct meetings with representatives of various ministries, state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and business organisations. Schlettwein also informed the visitors, who were led by a number of Namibia’s honourary consuls in the USA, that the country has stable macroeconomic conditions and has produced an average growth rate of 4 percent during the last 23 years since independence. He also emphasized that Namibia can offer an attractive range of investment incentives, such as tax benefits and benefits for investing in manufacturing.
“Namibia is also strategically positioned in terms of logistics to act as a gateway into Africa through the Port of Walvis Bay, which offers the shortest turnaround times in Africa for containers,” Schlettwein told the visitors. However, the minister also informed the visiting delegation of the numerous challenges that Namibia is facing. These challenges include the high unemployment rate, estimated at 27 percent, the unacceptably high income inequality, the lack of skills and an economy that is heavily reliant on the primary sector. “Foreign Direct Investment and new businesses established can assist in addressing these challenges,” remarked Schlettwein. “Globally, Namibia must move up the value chain and we see you as the private sector, as a crucial component of Namibia’s development,” he concluded.
By Edgar Brandt