Situation and cooperation

The "Tintenpalast" (German for "Ink Palace") in the Namibian capital of Windhoek is the seat of both chambers of the legislature, the National Council and the National Assembly.

One of Namibia's greatest problems is the extremely inequitable distribution of its wealth within society. The main reason for this is that 20 years or more after independence, the coun­try has yet to overhaul social and economic structures dating from the period prior to 1990 when it was under South African mandate.

For example, despite the allocation of large amounts of money, Namibia's edu­ca­tion and training system is still under­per­form­ing. Although the en­rol­ment rate has risen to 96 per cent, ap­proximately 20 per cent of children are still dropping out without com­plet­ing primary school.

Despite a huge shortage of skilled labour, the unemployment rate is high – the official figure is 34 per cent. Of greatest concern is the very high level of un­em­ploy­ment among young people – an estimated 70 per cent.

Namibia continues to be one of the coun­tries worst affected by HIV and AIDS, with an infection rate of 13.4 per cent (2011). In some regions up to 36 per cent of the popu­la­tion is infected. The pandemic affects young people in particular, and women worst of all.

The issue of energy is a further obstacle to the country's sus­tain­able economic de­vel­op­ment. Namibia has too few power stations and is heavily dependent on expensive electricity imported from neighbouring coun­tries.

De­vel­op­ment potential

Women and children in Namibia. Copyright:, KöhlerBy African standards, Na­mi­bia is re­gard­ed as a sound in­vest­ment pros­pect. The coun­try's eco­no­my has re­cord­ed steady growth of more than 4 per cent in recent years. The com­pa­ra­tive­ly well-de­vel­oped infra­struc­ture pro­vides a favourable en­vi­ron­ment for busi­nes­ses. How­ever, the very small domestic market, relatively high trans­por­ta­tion and labour costs, and lack of skilled workers are still deterring invest­ment. In 2011, to address these struc­tur­al short­comings, the gov­ern­ment intro­duced its ambitious 3-year Targeted Inter­ven­tion Program for Employ­ment and Eco­nom­ic Growth (TIPEEG) which aims to create new employ­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties and promote trade and in­dus­try. About 100,000 new jobs are to be generated in local infrastructure de­vel­op­ment.

Namibia's main potential lies in the extraction of mineral resources, in fishing and in tourism.

Mining forms the backbone of the Namibian eco­no­my. The mining of diamonds, uranium, zinc and other mineral resources provides an im­por­tant source of foreign exchange. However, because the sector is highly mechanised, it provides only few jobs up to now. Far more could be created if the extracted mineral resources were also refined on site. This would, however, call for skilled wor­kers, which Namibia does not currently have in this sector of the economy.

Tourism also offers de­vel­op­ment opportunities, thanks mainly to tourists from Europe. Since many tourists visiting Namibia also wish to visit the neigh­bour­ing coun­tries with their trans­boun­da­ry game parks, however, this sector is heavily de­pen­dent on the political stability of the coun­try's neighbours.

Priority areas of German co­op­er­a­tion with Namibia

Germany's special historical re­spon­si­bil­i­ty toward Namibia is reflected in the strong commit­ment made by German de­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion. Since Namibia secured its inde­pen­dence in 1990, Germany has been its most im­por­tant bi­la­ter­al donor. For the two-year period 2017/20148, Germany pledged 130 million euros.

The co­op­er­a­tion is based on 'Vision 2030', Namibia's long-term national de­vel­op­ment strategy, and the corres­pond­ing National De­vel­op­ment Plans (currently NDP5, which will guide policies until 2021/22). Namibia's goal is to achieve the standard of living of an industrialised coun­try by the year 2030.

Germany supports Namibia mainly in three priority areas:

  • natural resource management
  • sus­tain­able economic de­vel­op­ment
  • transport

Due to the major threat posed by the further spread of HIV/AIDS, HIV pre­ven­tion is a cross-cutting theme of bilateral co­op­er­a­tion.

Traditionelle Begrüßung beim Besuch von Bundesentwicklungsminister Niebel des "Open Market" in Onankali, Namibia. Urheberrecht: photothek.netIn 2007 the Namibian-German Special Ini­tia­tive for Re­con­ci­li­a­tion was also launched, for which the German gov­ern­ment has made a total of 20 million euros available in addition to bilateral de­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion. These funds are ear­marked for com­mu­ni­ty de­vel­op­ment measures in areas inhabited by those ethnic groups that endured par­ti­cu­lar suffering under German colonial rule.

Finally, German is sup­port­ing the Namibian gov­ern­ment in miti­gat­ing climate change and im­prov­ing energy security by pro­mot­ing renewable energy sources and reducing imports of coal-based elec­tri­ci­ty from South Africa. For this purpose the BMZ deploys special funding under the Initiative for Climate and En­vi­ron­men­tal Protection.

Natural resource management

Water treatment plant in Windhuk, Namibia. Copyright: photothekNamibia is the most arid coun­try south of the Sa­ha­ra. The soils are se­vere­ly threatened by ero­sion; water is scarce and large stretches of land are under threat of de­ser­ti­fi­ca­tion, scrub en­croach­ment and the im­pacts of climate change. At the same time, natural resources such as land, water, minerals and bio­di­ver­si­ty are the basis for Namibia's eco­nom­ic de­vel­op­ment through ag­ri­cul­ture, mining and tourism. Com­pe­ti­tion for the already scarce re­sour­ces is also ex­acer­bated by the very in­equi­table dis­tri­bu­tion of land owner­ship which still prevails for historical reasons.

Germany is assisting Namibia in its efforts to es­tab­lish equitable access to na­tur­al re­sour­ces and manage them sus­tain­ably so as to protect the en­vi­ron­ment and boost rural in­comes. At national level, the gov­ern­ment is being advised on how to improve the setting in this field and how to develop in­sti­tu­tion­al capa­ci­ties for en­vi­ron­ment­al and natural resource man­age­ment. At regional and com­mu­nal level, the sus­tain­able use of natural resources is being promoted by es­tab­lish­ing and managing com­mu­ni­ty forests and national parks, for example.

In the east of the coun­try the world's largest nature reserve is being created: the Kavango-Zambezi (KAZA) Transfrontier Con­ser­va­tion Area consists of areas of land be­long­ing to the neigh­bour­ing coun­tries Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. For this the BMZ is making 20 million euros available and advising the authorities involved on topics such as land-use planning, park man­age­ment and tourism. In the north of the coun­try, too, the BMZ is sup­port­ing the en­large­ment of national parks. Tourist infra­struc­ture is being built up with care so that the local popu­la­tion profits from nature con­ser­va­tion at the same time.

Sustainable economic de­vel­op­ment

Leitstand der Wasseraufbereitungsanlage Goreangab in der namibischen Hauptstadt Windhoek. Urheberrecht: photothek.netIn order to solve the coun­try's main problems eco­nom­ic de­vel­op­ment needs to be broad-scale, sus­tain­able and under­pinned by the pri­vate sec­tor. German-Namibian co­op­er­a­tion focuses on im­prov­ing the enabling con­di­tions for the private sector, which includes sup­port­ing small and medium-sized enterprises.

The de­vel­op­ment of the stra­te­gic­ally im­por­tant sec­tors of ag­ri­cul­ture, mining and tourism has an im­por­tant role to play here. As the lack of well-qualified experts and the low standard of edu­ca­tion of large sections of the popu­la­tion are posing a per­sis­tent challenge to Namibia's eco­nom­ic de­vel­op­ment, Germany's activities always include edu­ca­tion and training components.

Another priority of German co­op­er­a­tion is the de­vel­op­ment of the financial sector. The rural popu­la­tion and small businesses in par­ti­cu­lar have until now had very little access to fi­nan­cial services such as micro­credits. Namibia's first micro­finance bank, the FIDES Bank Namibia, has now been established with German support. So far it has reached around 8,000 lending and 14,000 savings clients (90 per cent of them women). To date more than 40,000 people have profited from this project, either directly or indirectly.


If Namibia is to develop eco­nom­ic­al­ly and the pop­u­la­tion is to fully par­ti­ci­pate in social and eco­nom­ic life, the sparsely-pop­u­lat­ed nation needs an ef­fi­cient trans­port infra­struc­ture. German experts are there­fore advising the Namibian gov­ern­ment and devising training programmes for the transport sector.

To help improve Namibia's eco­nom­ic inte­gra­tion in southern Africa, trans­port cor­ri­dors are being up­graded, including to the Walvis Bay deep-sea port. The harbour is a trans­port node of supra­regional im­por­tance. It is to become a main tran­ship­ment point for several coun­tries in the Southern African De­vel­op­ment Community (SADC).

African forest. Copyright: Matthias ReicheSince co­op­er­a­tion began almost 1,000 kilo­metres of road have been either built or re­ha­bi­li­tat­ed with Ger­man sup­port; in the third phase alone of the fi­nan­cial co­op­er­a­tion programme 'Labour-Inten­sive Road Con­struc­tion', 53 schools and 17 hos­pi­tals will be con­nect­ed to the road net­work. Since com­ple­tion of the first upgrade of the Walvis Bay port with German support in 2000, container transhipment has risen by 700 per cent.

With support from German technical co­op­er­a­tion a Road Safety Strategy was developed and road safety campaigns conducted – between 2004 and 2008 the number of road traffic accidents dropped by 50 per cent. Since April 2007, more than 5,600 people have taken part in training covering such topics as tendering procedures and project implementation in the roads sector.

Owing to the shortage of skilled workers, co­op­er­a­tion also extends to tertiary education in the discipline of civil engineering. Through a partnership between the Aachen University of Applied Sciences and the Polytechnic of Namibia an internationally recognised curriculum for civil engineering was developed – the number of enrolled students rose by 40 per cent between 2005 and 2011. With German support, a University of Namibia engineering faculty will be established in Ongwediva in the north of the coun­try.

Flagship project 'Energy for the Future'

One especially promising project in Namibia is the 'Energy for the Future' project launched in 2011. The BMZ is providing financial support for the clearing of encroacher bush from several thousand hectares of farmland which has been rendered unusable. The land can then be used for ag­ri­cul­ture again. The har­vest­ed bush will be used as fuel for a local cement factory. The cement factory is the most up-to-date in Africa and one of the most en­viron­men­tal­ly-friendly factories of this type in the world. Thus the project is helping to reduce climate-damaging green­house gases and sup­port­ing the sus­tain­able economic de­vel­op­ment of the region.

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