BlUE Economy

Namibia’s strategic geographical location and access to the Atlantic Ocean with its rich fishing, mineral and other resources, as well as its spectacular coastal scenery, offer immense opportunities to develop the country’s Blue Economy to serve as a catalyst for value addition and job creation, socio-economic development and economic growth in an ecologically sustainable manner. Blue Economy refers to the use of ocean resources for sustainable economic development. For Namibia, a sustainable blue economy should provide not only economic, but also social benefits for present and future generations. A Blue Economy recognises marine ecosystems as natural assets and protects and maintains them accordingly. It also aspires for social and economic stability through the use of clean technology and renewable energy.

The Benguela Upwelling System off Namibia’s coastline is one of the most productive fishing grounds in the world. With an Exclusive Economic Zone of 200 nautical miles, Namibia’s marine fisheries industry ranks among the top in Africa and it is the country’s largest export earner after mining. The coastal fishing waters support seven main commercially exploited species, as well as a variety of other species which are landed in smaller volumes. Namibia’s fishing industry is well known for its world-class capabilities in handling, packaging, distributing and marketing its marine products – mainly to Spain and destinations in Asia.

Namibia is Africa’s third largest capture fisheries nation after Morocco and South Africa and ranks among the top ten fish producing nations globally. Walvis Bay, the hub of the fishing industry, accounts for around 90% of the landings, while the southern coastal town of Lüderitz is the centre of the rock lobster, swordfish and tuna industries. Smaller catches of hake are also landed there. Several fishing companies have made major investments to add value to onshore factories and facilities, while the construction sector has also benefited from coastal developments.

The Namibian Islands’ Marine Protected Area (NIMPA). stretches for 400 km along the coast north and south of

Lüderitz and 30 km offshore. It protects the marine environment of ten small islands and eight islets and rocks used by seabirds as breeding sites.

The nutrient-rich Benguela Upwelling System with its high primary productivity creates ideal conditions for mariculture. This relatively small industry is growing steadily and centres on the sheltered lagoons at Walvis Bay and Lüderitz. Namibian oysters, renowned for their quality, and black mussels are harvested there. Other mariculture products include abalone, seaweed and kelp.

The extraction of non-living resources is another established Blue Economy activity. The 100 km stretch of ocean coast north of the Orange River is a treasure chest of top quality gem diamonds. Marine diamond mining dates back to the late 1950s and early 1960s and has become increasingly important as land-based diamonds are nearly depleted. Diamonds are Namibia’s largest export earner. Phosphate mining is an emerging industry, but has yet to be approved.

The dominant southwesterly winds along the coast create ideal conditions for generating wind energy. The generation of tidal energy is another possibility. Namibia is the most arid country in sub-Saharan Africa and desalination of ocean water to supply the coastal towns of Walvis Bay and Swakopmund, the interior and even landlocked Botswana is under consideration.

Situated on the south-western coast of Africa, Namibia’s main port, Walvis Bay, is strategically located to become a major port of call on the maritime transport route around Africa. Namibia has positioned itself as the logistics hub for the imports and exports of landlocked SADC (Southern African Development Conference) countries. Four transport corridors link the ports of Walvis Bay and Lüderitz to South Africa and Angola, as well as several landlocked SADC countries.

To facilitate the flow of goods, the infrastructure of the Walvis Bay port has been extended significantly. Its handling capacity has been increased from 350,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) to 750,000 TEUs. The new cruise vessel berth is expected to increase the number of passenger liners calling at Walvis Bay, which in turn will boost the local tourism industry. These developments have also stimulated a wide range of logistics services.

Tourism along the 1,570 km coastline is largely centred around five towns: Oranjemund and Lüderitz in the south and Walvis Bay, Swakopmund and Henties Bay on the central coast. Guided tours, quad biking, horse and camel excursions, a variety of dune sports and yacht trips are among the established leisure activities offered in Walvis Bay and Swakopmund. The Orange River Mouth, Sandwich Harbour Lagoon and Walvis Bay Lagoon have been designated as wetlands of international importance and are popular birdwatching destinations. Self-drive day and overnight excursions into the desert along demarcated routes are another popular activity. A wide range of accommodation options, from luxury lodges and hotels to guest houses and camping sites, is available at the coastal towns.

Namibia’s coastline is renowned for its spectacular scenery – dunes meeting the ocean, gravel plains interspersed with rocky outcrops, solitude and the many stories around the Skeleton Coast which was feared by early navigators. Apart from four urban centres and a peri-urban area, the entire coastline from the low water mark further inland for distances ranging between 35 km and 200 km is part of four conservation areas managed by the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism.

The coast is renowned for its excellent angling. Recreational beach angling is permitted in designated areas at Lüderitz, the central coast between Walvis Bay and the southern boundary of Skeleton Coast National Park, as well as specified areas in the park.

Other potential new and emerging industries include pharmaceuticals, blue carbon trading and biotechnology.

The Namibian government is committed to develop an implementation plan to attract private sector investment to the Blue Economy for value addition. It is one of the activities of the ‘Develop Complementary Engines of Growth’ goal of the Economic Advancement pillar of the Harambee Prosperity Plan II.

In terms of the plan, “a portfolio of green and blue projects will be developed in conjunction with local and international financial institutions and development partners and will be launched as an HPPII initiative by the Fourth quarter of the 2021/22 financial year. The same cluster will also work closely with the non-banking financial institutions and development partners to explore the possibility of creating project bonds, green, blue and transition bonds to fund the said projects throughout the HPPII period.”


Minister Hon Derek Klazen

The Ministry’s mandate is to responsibly manage the living aquatic resources and to continuously ensure a conducive environment for the fishing and aquaculture sector to prosper. The vision of the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources is for Namibia to be a leading nation with a well-developed aquaculture industry.