By: Hertha Ekandjo
With Namibia importing 22% worth of goods from African countries in 2020 following the closure of overseas ports and trade restrictions due to the pandemic, economist Abednego Ekandjo said it is crucial for Namibia to build strong trade relations with other African countries.
Whether it is SACU, SADC or African Union policies, Abednego says it is important for the country to have strong relationships with African countries because “we need to promote trade within Africa contribute to African development”.
The economist noted that when buying goods from Europe, America or elsewhere, Namibia is actually contributing to those continents’ development, adding that if Namibia is buying goods from African countries, the country will be contributing to Africa’s development.
“I am not saying that co-operation with Europeans, Americans or Asians is not important, but I think we need to give priority to Africa if we can find things in there, but we must also promote out of Africa co-operation,” he explained.
This year Namibia has only imported 2% worth of goods from African countries, as the imports from Asia have grown by taking up an additional 14% in Namibia’s import bill since 2020.
Ekandjo mentioned that the pandemic had created a lot of supply issues related to logistics, but the bottom line remains that if Namibia can get goods in Africa then that needs to be prioritised.
“Looking at the issues of load-shedding in South Africa, it has affected industries. In order for people to manufacture you need electricity and with the problem of load-shedding, factories will not be able to operate and there will be no goods to be produced,” he explained.
He said that it is very important to develop local capacities especially in areas such as agriculture and energy as these are the sectors where development needs to happen.
“That way Africa will not be under threat from food insecurity and energy insecurity,” he said.
South Africa and the rest of Africa have been Namibia’s primary destinations to source imports. Imports from South Africa alone account for 38% of our import bill year-to-date, compared to 35% for the same period in 2022.
The supply chain issues caused by the pandemic forced Namibia to become more interactive with the rest of Africa, as countries overseas had port closures and trade restrictions.
South Africa’s dominant trade position with Namibia implies that the country is vulnerable to cost pressures emanating from load-shedding in that country, droughts, weak rand exchange rate and any other cost pressures in South Africa.