Namibia urged to tap into continental market


Namibia should tap into the more than two billion dollar market space provided by the African continent to broaden its market, accrue full benefits from its smaller industry and avoid exporting jobs, analysts say.

Economist Omu Kakujaha-Matundu says Namibia can recognise the full potential of its industrial production if the government takes a deliberate focus towards producing goods that are appealing to the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

The AfCFTA is a consolidated African market to enhance intra-Africa trade.

Speaking on Desert Radio yesterday, Kakujaha-Matundu said there is increased value in Namibia manufacturing products that are more Afrocentric and selling them on the continent, cutting down on the exportation of raw materials, which he believes is tantamount to exporting jobs.

His comments come at a time when Namibia, a net importer of goods, continues to battle with a high trade deficit dominated by imports at the expense of home-made products.

“We need to look at low-hanging fruits.

These include manufacturing our own bread and biscuits. I have in many cases seen mahangu biscuits and they seem delicious, but the ministry of trade needs to find avenues to improve local procurement to deliberately empower local products,” Kakujaha-Matundu said.

He added that it would take some time for countries who are signatories to the grandiose AfCFTA agreement to reap the rewards of the treaty through improved intra-Africa trade.

Namibia must find solace in the fact that the groundwork has been done and that the 54 African countries on the continent have signed, he added.

“In the grand scheme of things, we should not be worried about the large trade deficit, but should be positioning ourselves to compete with other producers in the continent.

The question you are asking is whether there is ample money to trade in Africa?

The answer is yes, there is money, but we need to know what the different regions need in terms of consumption and we produce our goods in alignment with such market needs,” Kakujaha-Matundu said.

Echoing these sentiments, Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA) executive for economic statistics Abel Sindano said Namibia is well positioned to improve its production and accrue more benefits from a diverse array of exports, both on the African continent and further afield.

“If you look at the bulk of our imports, you will see that they are dominated by fuels and we do need these because we do not produce such.

Do we need to import toothpicks? The answer to this is no, and we must realise that these are low-hanging fruits that we can tap into.

“We have wood in our country and we must empower our locals to produce toilet paper and toothpicks in the future,” he said in reference to Namibia’s imports of smaller consumables that can be produced locally.

He said while Namibia cannot avert the growing import basket, it can leverage the ability to produce products that have appeal to other countries.

“We need to look at ourselves and be able to see what we can manufacture ourselves and what we must consume from elsewhere. We are also importing a lot of ores, but do we need these for our industry to operate?”

Sindano said South Africa remains Namibia’s dominant trade partner.

“South Africa continues to be our strongest partner, although we are also diversifying our export bracket, so we can appeal to other markets,” he said.

Stay informed with The Namibian – your source for credible journalism. Get in-depth reporting and opinions for only N$85 a month. Invest in journalism, invest in democracy –
Subscribe Now!

Latest News