Fixed-line services are still a monopoly of the incumbent, Telecom Namibia, but as a member of the WTO the government plans to open the telecom sector to full competition. Although Namibia’s internet and broadband sector is reasonably competitive, with six ISPs active, its development was for long held back by high prices for international bandwidth caused by the lack of a direct connection to international submarine fibre optic cables. This changed in 2011 when the WACS cable landed in the country. International cable services were launched in May 2012. In parallel, Namibia is diversifying its transit access routes via adjacent countries. The telecom regulator in Namibia is Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN).
Namibia’s economy is heavily dependent on the extraction and processing of minerals for export. Mining accounts for 11.5% of GDP, but provides more than 50% of foreign exchange earnings. Rich alluvial diamond deposits make Namibia a primary source for gem-quality diamonds. Namibian authorities have emphasized the need to add value to raw materials, do more in-country manufacturing, and exploit the services market, especially in the logistics and transportation sectors.
A priority of the current government is poverty eradication. Despite a drought, real GDP growth remained strong in 2015 around 5.3% because of construction in the mining and housing sectors coupled with expansionary fiscal policy. GDP growth in 2016 slowed to 1%, however, due to contractions in both the construction and mining sectors, as well as the ongoing drought. Growth is expected to recover modestly in 2017 and 2018.
The Namibian economy is closely linked to South Africa with the Namibian dollar pegged one-to-one to the South African rand. Namibia receives 30%-40% of its revenues from the Southern African Customs Union (SACU); volatility in the size of Namibia’s annual SACU allotment and global mineral prices complicates budget planning.