Namibia expected to show marginal positive growth in 2019

Namibians have reason to feel somewhat pleased about their economy.  A leading economist says Namibia can expect a 1.5 percent positive growth in the economy during 2019.

A general view of the city and Christ Church in Windhoek, Namibia, February 24, 2017. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

In his Economic Outlook Report 2019, Floris Berg, the Chief Economist at Capricorn Asset Management said a down-cycle had been evident since 2016 and carried over throughout 2017 and 2018 in the southwest African nation.

Berg said 2018 had been a mixed year for primary sectors, that saw agriculture and fishing struggle, while mining however, for the second year over the past five, had experienced a bounce.

“We look for somewhat positive growth from these three sectors in 2019,” he added.

Among secondary sectors, manufacturing contracted by an estimated 5 percent, whereas electricity, water and construction are expected to have done reasonably well.

With regard to the tertiary sector, where, amongst others, the role of government is taken into account, Berg said the Fiscus had been under tremendous pressure which, of necessity, stifled growth in Government spending and, hence, economic growth.

“Retail and wholesale trade has contracted by an estimated 4.9 percent in 2018. Some other industries like transport, post and telecoms, financial, real estate and business services were positive, but hotels and restaurants were negative, ” Berg added.

Turning to inflation goes, Berg said there were possibilities that Namibia could have a somewhat higher rate in 2019, before it decreases again in 2020.

Berg added that seasonal patterns in the inflation basket, as well as low inflation in early 2018, would probably contribute to a 6 percent plus rate at times during the year, before an expected average of about 5.5 percent in 2020.

“This means that Namibians should not expect wage increases much above 5-6 percent,” he said.