The manufacturing sector plays an important role in Namibia’s long-term development goal to be a prosperous and industrialised country. It is one of the largest employers in the productive sector, after agriculture, and accounts for about 9.5% of Namibia’s gross domestic product (GDP).

Diamond cutting and polishing, the food sub-sector which produces processed meat and grain mill products, fish processing, other food products and beverages are key manufacturing sub-sectors. The beneficiation of basic non-ferrous metals centres mainly on the smelting of copper and zinc, but also includes tin, gold and silver. Salt, marble, cement and stone quarrying are important non-metallic basic mineral products of the manufacturing industry.

The industry has become more diverse in the past few years in sub-sectors such as textiles and clothing, packaging and plastics, cosmetics, cleaning materials and pharmaceutical products. Although the domestic market is small, Namibia is strategically located and offers easy access to markets in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) with a population of over 330 million people. The linkage creates opportunities for exporting locally manufactured products within the region and beyond. The country’s strategic location on the coast of southwestern Africa is complemented by a well-developed transport infrastructure and four transport corridors linking it to its landlocked neighbours in particular.

The Ministry of Industrialisation and Trade is responsible for the development and management of Namibia’s economic regulatory regime, and the manufacturing sector is guided by the Industrial Policy, while the “Growth at Home” Strategy is the implementation strategy for industrialisation focusing on value chain processes relating to the country’s rich natural resources.

Growth at home focuses on three strategic intervention areas:

  • Supporting value addition, upgrading and diversification for sustained growth
  • Securing market access at home and abroad
  • Improving the investment climate and conditions

Namibia is endowed with an abundance of raw materials, and the promotion of local value addition in labour intensive projects is one of the most important aspects of “Growth at Home” as a measure to support the creation of muchneeded jobs. The strategy is being implemented in four phases.

The following sectors were targeted for Phase I (2015 – 2020):

  • Agro-processing
  • Fish processing
  • Mineral beneficiation (jewellery industry)
  • Steel manufacturing and metal fabrication
  • The automotive industry

In Phase II (2021 – 2025) and Phase III (2026 – 2030) an analysis of the targeted sectors will be conducted, as well as an analysis of projects based on the value chain. Phase IV (2031 and beyond) is aimed at targeted sectors based on an analysis of Phase III.

The National Automotive Assembly Development Policy Framework (NAADPF), launched in March 2021, aims to develop a fully-fledged automotive assembly industry that can produce vehicles in Namibia. The framework promotes the exportation of locally assembled motor vehicles and encourages domestic and foreign direct investment in the automotive assembling and components manufacturing sector.

The Retail Charter, a project of the Namibia Trade Forum (an agency of the Ministry of Industrialisation and Trade), aims to create a retail environment that will stimulate manufacturing, ensure market access locally and remove structural barriers.

Its objectives include:

  • To transform the retail sector from relying predominantly on foreign imports to giving preference to local manufacturers – by encouraging retailers to source locally produced products
  • Support local businesses in securing retail space at home, so as to increase the visibility of their products through the promotion, marketing and distribution of such products
  • To support and assist new and existing MSMEs to increase their participation in the Namibian retail sector – by implementing enterprise development programmes.

Special Economic Zones

The Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Industrialisation and Trade, as well as the Namibia Investment Promotion Development Board (NIPDB), are in the process of finalising a new set of investment incentives that will be rolled out through the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) policy framework. The SEZ policy framework replaces the Economic Processing Zone which has been phased out to avoid blacklisting by the European Union (EU) and because the EPZ regime did not achieve the anticipated growth.

The interests of manufacturers are represented by the Namibian Manufacturers Association (NMA) which has over 110 members.

Ministry of Industrialisation and Trade

Learn more about Namibia’s manufacturing from the line ministry within government.