A Vision for a Viable Creative Economy in Namibia

Namibia’s creative industry is critical for driving economic growth, preserving cultural heritage, fostering social development, and spurring innovation, enhancing the country’s global competitiveness and attractiveness for foreign investment.

This diverse sector, encompassing film, music, visual arts, literature, and performing arts, contributes significantly to the nation’s economy and overall well-being.

Recognising creativity and innovation as key economic drivers is important for Namibia to navigate the digital frontier and reap dividends from our cultural treasures before they are lost.


Measuring the creative sector’s contribution is challenging, but it is estimated to account for approximately 3% of Namibia’s GDP.

It plays a vital role in the export market through products like marula oil and devil’s claw, used globally in cosmetics and wellness industries.

Film, a creative industry constituent, generates substantial revenue, creates jobs, attracts tourists, and stimulates economic growth, forming a value chain that benefits multiple sectors.

Creative industries extend beyond entertainment, influencing daily life through smart devices and the attention economy.

Art workshops, storytelling sessions, and collaborative projects empower communities and nurture a sense of belonging.

Through arts education, mentorship programmes, and community-driven initiatives, the creative industry can become a powerful agent of empowerment, especially for youth and marginalised communities.

Creative education equips individuals with skills beyond artistic expression, enhancing critical thinking, problem-solving, and communication.


Despite its potential, the creative sector faces significant challenges because of fragmented management across various silos and ministries, hindering comprehensive data collection and assessment.

Reliable data collection is essential for effective planning, organisation and provides a solid foundation for shaping the future of its creative industry – a robust advertising and tourism sector can integrate local creatives and content creators, celebrating the country’s rich creative profile.

Local content is crucial for media platforms to ensure cultural relevance and audience engagement, driving economic growth, cultural pride, and social cohesion.

Namibia’s media landscape has long relied on imported content. 

Economic viability, limited investment in local talent, and audience habits conditioned to foreign content contribute to this trend.

While newsprint and radio have started to turn the tide, progress is still needed in television.

Protecting intellectual property assets is crucial for driving economic growth and cultural preservation.

Supporting creative entrepreneurship through mentorship, funding, and market access has proven to drive innovation and economic diversification along with local community support and participation that are vital for the sustainability of Namibia’s creative sector, helping build equity within the industry and supporting diverse stakeholders.


The digital age offers unprecedented opportunities. Online platforms, e-commerce, and social media amplify creative voices.

We have to embrace digital tools to showcase our talent globally.

Therefore we have to prioritise developing Namibian digital platforms and empowering direct support from patrons to reclaim agency over creative endeavours and forge meaningful relationships with those who appreciate Namibian creativity.

Creatives must also adapt to evolving technology for sustainable growth in the attention economy.

Understanding changing consumer behaviour is crucial to remain competitive.

Namibia’s stable electricity grid and competitive telecom industry have the ability to boost the creative sector, fostering a culture of digital innovation and providing robust support structures.

If we address the needs of the creative industry, we can aim to create 250 000 digital jobs by 2026, leading to economic growth and empowering a new generation of digital-savvy professionals.

The Covid pandemic highlighted the creative sector’s critical role and vulnerability, emphasising the need for robust support structures, including funding and legislation.

At some point, stakeholders across both the public and private sectors will acknowledge the creative industry’s significance and recognise the immense value of new technologies, including generative AI.


To enhance Namibia’s creative industry, we need to establish inter-ministerial task forces, create a centralised authority for oversight and promotion, foster cross-sectoral partnerships, develop a national strategy, and improve communication among relevant ministries.

Promoting local digital content creation and ensuring regulatory frameworks support innovation, collaboration, and community engagement will then safeguard our cultural heritage and foster a robust digital economy.

Namibia must continue to invest in digital infrastructure, expand high-speed internet access, and support digital literacy.

Financial assistance should be provided to artists and cultural institutions during crises, and partnerships should be promoted between creative industries and other sectors.

Training programmes are needed to nurture a skilled creative workforce in both urban and rural communities.

Establishing a centralised hub for resources, support, and distribution (local and abroad) through our mission and embassies will make Namibia’s creative library available globally while giving our IP jurisdiction everywhere.

Archiving our history and heritage will help build a resilient and innovative creative sector, positioning Namibia as a dynamic hub for creativity, cultural expression and trademarks.

We need to position ourselves as a digital hub for creativity and innovation on the continent and embrace African-built platforms to help artists cultivate genuine connections in the diaspora, translating into reliable revenue streams.


Namibia has already taken significant steps to recognise and promote her creative economy.

The Namibia Creative Industry Guide contextualises the sector, featuring insights from local experts and a comprehensive listing of creative companies, organisations, and professionals.

We just need to allocate more public and private interest resources to the sector to realise its full potential – for the benefit of Namibia and Afrikans.

Namibia’s creative industry has immense potential if we focus on commercialising our creative output using Intellectual Property (IP) to foster investment in the creative arts industry, prioritising education, trade, industrialisation, and essential infrastructure.

Ultimately, it’s the stories we tell and the creativity we unleash that will light our path forward to economic prosperity built on our diverse cultural landscape.

The key lies in creating an ecosystem where local talent is nurtured, valued, and given the platform to shine. That platform is Namibia.

– Obed Emvula is a film producer, actor, writer, and digital marketer. His projects include ‘Is Love Enough’, ‘Valara’, and ‘Katutura’, with accolades from the World Short Film Awards for ‘Beef’. He is also a member of the International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (Emmys) and chairperson of the Namibia Selection Committee for the Oscars. In 2023, he was appointed chief juror for the inaugural Botswana International Film Festival.

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