The Bank of Namibia said Chinese businesses in Namibia have since to 2014 repatriated N$11 994 488 824, while N$5 594 424 426 was brought in. Responding to questions sent by The Villager in February, the central bank said it was not easy to say how much investment Chinese companies have made in the country.
The answers were supposed to have been used with the story titled Feeding Namibia to the Chinese that was published sometime on 20 January this year.
In the story, The Villager said that Chinese companies and business people operating in Namibia had repatriated close to N$20 billion between 2012 and 2013. It further said because of this difficulty, the bank could not differentiate foreign remittances that were made by Chinese individuals or the number of Chinese shareholders in companies operating in Namibia.
The bank, however, said it was possible to provide the total amount of money repatriated from Namibia to China between 2014 and 2017. Since the Bank of Namibia figures cover the last three years, it could be true that the Chinese businesses in Namibia have repatriated close or even more than the N$20 billion figure given earlier.
Experts told The Villager that it is not easy to measure Chinese investment in the country because there is nothing on the ground to show it. An economic analyst and the director of research and securities at Simonis Storm Purvance Heuer told The Villager in January that it is difficult to tell whether the Chinese have made an investment in Namibia or not.
Heuer said nobody knows what percentage of the Chinese income stays in the country and what goes out of the country. According to Heuer, Chinese investment cannot be seen in physical structures too and that while Namibia is going through an economic deficit, funds that could be invested to create jobs are transferred out of the country.
The Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive officer Tara Shaanika also told The Villager at the time that many Chinese businesses don’t bank with local banks. This, he said, means that the banks are losing out a lot on revenue because the money is flown out of the country. Shaanika raised concern that has been observed following reports of chunks of Namibian money found stored in country and destined for China.
He says the competition observed has created an unconducive environment for Namibian businesses to thrive, because Chinese businesses offer cheaper prices on their merchandise and those appeals to the Namibian market. “For other businesses to succeed, we need to emphasise fair competition in the market otherwise local businesses will continue to suffer or close down,” he said.
According to Shaanika, the Chinese are mostly visible in the construction sector where Namibians lack capacity. “However, today we still find certain sectors such as retail sector where the Chinese people are also involved,” Shaanika said