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2010 Investment Climate Statement - Namibia


2010 Investment Climate Statement
Bureau of Economic, Energy and Business Affairs
March 2010
Report
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Openness to Foreign Investment

The Government of the Republic of Namibia (GRN) is committed to stimulating economic growth and employment through attracting foreign investment. The Foreign Investment Act of 1990 is the primary legislation that governs foreign direct investment in Namibia. The Ministry of Trade and Investment is the governmental authority which is primarily responsible for carrying out the provisions of the Foreign Investment Act. Under the act the Ministry established the Namibia Investment Center (NIC). The NIC serves as Namibia’s official investment promotion and facilitation office. It is often the first point of contact for potential investors. The NIC is designed to offer comprehensive services that range from the initial inquiry stage through to operational stages. The NIC also provides general information packages and advice on investment opportunities, incentives, and procedures. The NIC is also tasked with assisting investors minimize bureaucratic “red tape” by coordinating work with government ministries as well as regulatory bodies.

The Foreign Investment Act guarantees equal treatment for foreign investors and Namibian firms, i.e., fair compensation in the event of expropriation, international arbitration of disputes between investors and the government, the right to remit profits and access to foreign exchange. Investment incentives and special tax incentives are also available for the manufacturing sector.

The Registrar of Companies in the Ministry of Trade and Industry is responsible for managing, regulating, and facilitating the formation of businesses. The Registrar’s office encourages investors to seek professional advice from legal practitioners, auditors, accounting officers, or secretarial firms when registering their businesses.

The government, through the Competition Act, has designed a legal and regulatory framework that attempts to safeguard competition while boosting the prospects for Namibian businesses as well as recognizing the role of foreign investment. The act is intended to promote:

  • The efficiency, adaptability and development of the Namibian economy;
  • Competitive prices and product choices for customers;
  • Employment and advancement of the social and economic welfare of Namibians;
  • Expanded opportunities for Namibian participation in world markets;
  • Participation of small enterprises in the economy by ensuring a level playing field; and
  • Greater enterprise ownership particularly among the historically disadvantaged.

Other laws include the Companies Act and the Close Corporation Act. These laws provide the legal framework for the establishment of business entities. Implementation of the Competition Act and the amended Companies Act, however, is still pending.

Foreign Ownership Restrictions

While the Foreign Investment Act stipulates that foreign investors should be treated the same as Namibian investors, the Act acknowledges that the government has the right to impose restrictions. Most restrictions have to do with land and natural resource rights and government contracts (tenders). For example, the government requires local participation before issuing licenses to exploit natural resources.

Black Economic Empowerment and Affirmative Action

The government actively encourages partnerships with historically disadvantaged Namibians. Although the Government does not have a codified Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) program, the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare’s Equity Commission requires all firms to develop an affirmative action plan for management positions and to report annually on its implementation. Namibia’s Affirmative Action Act strives to create equal employment opportunities, improve conditions for the historically disadvantaged, and eliminate discrimination. The commission facilitates training programs, provides technical and other assistance, and offers expert advice, information, and guidance on implementing affirmative action in the work place.

In certain industries the government has employed different techniques to increase Namibian participation. In the fishing sector, companies pay lower quota fees if they operate Namibian-flagged vessels that are based in Namibia, with crews that are predominantly Namibian. The Minister of Mining and Energy has made clear that prospective mining companies must “indicate and show commitment to empower previously disadvantaged Namibians” in their applications for exploration and mining licenses.

Government Tenders

Most government transactions, including the procurement of goods and services, are coordinated through the Tender Board of Namibia (http://www.mof.gov.na/tender.htm). The board comprises representatives from various government ministries appointed by the Minister of Finance. The Government is required by law to publicize calls for tenders in the local media and the Namibia Government Gazette. Although the primary aim of the tender board is to ensure that tenders are awarded to the best bid in an open bidding process, the procurement policy of Namibia does permit preferences according to certain socio-economic goals and strategies. Beneficiaries of these preferences are generally not restricted to the historically disadvantaged or Namibian citizens but are reserved for individuals and companies domiciled in Namibia. The board generally requires that companies are registered with the Ministry of Trade and Industry and that it is in good standing with the Department of Inland Revenue (the tax authority) and the Social Security Commission.

Independent Ratings on Namibia’s Investment Climate

Independent ratings confirm that Namibia enjoys a relatively positive investment climate. The World Bank ranked Namibia 66 among 183 countries in its 2010 Doing Business report. Namibia received its lowest rankings for registering property, trading across borders, and starting a business. The World Bank reported that Namibia requires on average 10 procedures and 66 days to start a business. Registering property takes on average 9 procedures and 23 days, and the process costs nearly 10% of the property’s value. It takes 11 documents and approximately 29 days to export a product and 24 days to import an item (trade across borders), according to the World Bank. http://www.doingbusiness.org/ExploreEconomies/?economyid=135

In December 2009, the Fitch Ratings service issued its most recent credit analysis and assigned Namibia a long term foreign currency rating of BBB-. This was consistent with Fitch’s 2005 rating of Namibia. For more information go to: http://www.fitchratings.com (Logon required)

Foreign Investment in the Namibian Stock Exchange

Foreigners must pay a 10% non-resident shareholders tax on dividends; however there are no capital gains or marketable securities tax. As a member of the Common Monetary Area, the Namibia Dollar (denoted as N$) is pegged one-to-one with the South African Rand.

Work Permits

The lengthy and administratively burdensome process of obtaining work permits is among investors’ greatest complaints in Namibia. Although the government cites the 36 percent unemployment rate as its motivation for a strict policy on work permits, generally Namibia does not yet have the available skills capacity to fill the jobs which foreigners seek.

Index/Ranking
TI Corruption Index
2009
Score 4.5 | Ranking 56 of 180
Heritage Economic Freedom
2009
Score 62.4 | Ranking 71 of 183
World Bank Doing Business
2010
66 of 183
MCC Govnt Effectiveness
2009
0.55 (90%)
MCC Rule of Law
2009
0.59 (73%)
MCC Control of Corruption
2009
0.64 (87%)
MCC Fiscal Policy
2009
1.3 (75%)
MCC Trade Policy
2009
88.4 (100%)
MCC Regulatory Quality
2009
0.18 (67%)
MCC Business Start Up
2009
0.928 (34%)
MCC Land Rights Access
2009
0.571 (13%)
MCC Natural Resource Mgmt
2009
78.16 (29%)

Conversion and Transfer Policies

The Foreign Investment Act of 1990 offers investors meeting certain eligibility criteria the opportunity to obtain a Certificate of Status Investment (CSI). A “status investor” is entitled to:

preferential access to foreign exchange to repay foreign debt, pay royalties and similar charges, remit branch profits and dividends;
preferential access to foreign currency in order to repatriate proceeds from the sale of an enterprise to a Namibian resident;
exemption from regulations which might restrict certain business or categories of business to Namibian participation;
right to international arbitration in the event of a dispute with the government; and
payment of just compensation without undue delay and in freely convertible currency in the event of expropriation.

To obtain a CSI, an investor must apply to the Ministry of Trade and Industry. The investor’s application must demonstrate the extent to which the proposed investment will:

contribute toward Namibia’s development objectives;
utilize Namibian labor and natural resources to contribute to the economy;
assist in the advancement of socially, economically or educationally disadvantaged of Namibians;
make provisions for equal opportunities for women; and,
likely impact the environment, and the proposed measures to mitigate adverse environmental consequences.

There is no limit on investment transfers by corporations to other countries. The Bank of Namibia processes applications. Non-residents may access local credit up to 200 percent of their total shareholders’ investment to finance foreign direct investments in Namibia. The banking system is modern and closely tied to the South African system. Three of the four local commercial banks are subsidiaries of South African banks. All local commercial banks handle international transactions and trade financing. Banking fees and charges are among the highest in the world.

Expropriation and Compensation

Government expropriations are rare. According to the Foreign Investment Act, foreign investors who have received a Certificate of Status Investment (CSI) are entitled to “just compensation without undue delay and in freely convertible currency” if the government expropriates the investor’s property. Furthermore, the courts are generally independent and uphold contracts.

The primary mechanism for land reform that the government continues to pursue is a “willing buyer-willing seller” program, which is rooted in the Namibian Constitution. The Namibian Constitution also provides for the expropriation of property in the public interest subject to the payment of “just” compensation and in accordance with legal procedures. Landowners have the option to challenge the Government, including the price offered for expropriation, through the court system. As in other Southern African countries emerging from apartheid, land reform is at the forefront of public debate. The land reform process draws criticism for the slow pace of acquiring commercial farmland and resettling Namibia’s landless. Namibian stakeholders agreed that foreign-owned and non-productive farmland should be primary targets for expropriation. In 2005, the Government introduced a land tax to raise money for land acquisition subjecting absentee landowners to higher tax rates than resident farmers.

Under its land reform program the government has carried out the expropriation of “unproductive” agricultural land from both domestic and overseas (primarily German) landowners. The High Court of Namibia on March 6, 2008 made its first ruling on the legality of expropriation under the land reform program. The Court ruled the program was constitutional but found that the Ministry of Lands and Resettlement’s administration of the expropriation process had violated Namibian law on several grounds.

Dispute Settlement

The Foreign Investment Act allows for the settlement of disputes by international arbitration for investors that have obtained a Certificate of Status Investment (CSI). The CSI must also include a provision for international arbitration. The Act stipulates that arbitration “shall be in accordance with the Arbitration Rules of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law in force at the time when the Certificate was issued” unless the CSI stipulated another form of dispute resolution.

Namibia’s legal system, based on the Roman Dutch Law, is similar to South Africa’s legal system. The system provides effective means to enforce property and contractual rights. The Company’s Act of 1973 governs company and corporate liquidations while the Insolvency Act 61 of 1936 governs insolvent individuals and their estates. The Insolvency Act details sequestration procedures and the rights of creditors.

A new Insolvency Amendment Bill was passed in 2005 but has not yet been signed into law. Implementation of the new Company’s Act of 2007 is pending finalization of regulations.

The Namibian court system is independent, and does not suffer from government interference. Per the Criminal Procedure Act of 2004, foreign court judgments may be accepted under an extradition treaty.

Namibia signed but has not ratified the Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes Between States and Nationals of Other States.

Performance Requirements and Incentives

Namibia does not impose performance requirements on foreign investors. For certain industries, however, there are local content requirements to exempt final products from duties under the Southern African Customs Union (SACU).

Incentives

Incentives are mainly aimed at stimulating manufacturing in Namibia and promoting exports. To take advantage of the incentives, companies must be registered with the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) and the Ministry of Finance. Tax and non-tax incentives are accessible to both existing and new manufacturers. The MTI has developed a brochure titled Special Incentives for Manufacturers and Exporters which is available from the Namibia Investment Centre (NIC). Namibia has also established an Export Processing Zone (EPZ) regime that offers favorable conditions for companies wishing to manufacture and export products for regional and international markets (see section Foreign-Trade Zones/Free Ports).

Import Permits

The Ministry of Trade and Industry requires import permits for products entering the country. Products subject to non-automatic import licensing are medicines, chemicals, frozen and chilled fish and meat, live animals, genetic materials, controlled petroleum products, firearms and explosives, diamonds, gold, and other minerals, and almost all second-hand goods, including clothing and motor vehicles. In practice, the Ministry of Trade and Industry does not issue licenses for used clothing imports.

Most non-agricultural imports only require a permit issued by MTI. However, depending on the agricultural product, additional documentation may be necessary. The Namibian Agronomic Board issues permits for the import, export, and transit of controlled agronomic crops such as wheat, wheat products, corn, and corn products. Agronomic crops and derivatives and plants and plant products also require a phytosanitary certificate issued by the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF). Retailers of fruits, vegetables, and other crop products must purchase 27.5 percent of their stock from local farmers. The Namibian Meat Board regulates the import and export of live animals (cattle, sheep, goats and pigs) and derivative meat products. Importers of these products must demonstrate compliance with the country’s animal health standards by obtaining a veterinary import permit from the Directorate of Veterinary Services. The import of wood and lumber products requires permits from the MAWF.

Namibia is a party to the WTO Agreement on Import Licensing.

Right to Private Ownership and Establishment

The Namibian Constitution guarantees all persons the right to acquire, own and dispose of all forms of property throughout Namibia, but also allows Parliament to make laws concerning expropriation of property (see above) and to regulate the right of foreign nationals to own or buy property in Namibia. There are no restrictions on the establishment of private businesses, size of investment, sources of funds, marketing products, source of technology, or training in Namibia.

Real Estate

Foreign investors can purchase and own land in Namibia. There is an exception related to agricultural land. Due to Namibia’s ongoing land reform and resettlement process, legislation restricts non-resident foreigners from purchasing agricultural farmland. Existing agricultural land owned by non-resident foreigners (so-called absentee owners) has been considered a primary target for government expropriation under the land reform process.

Protection of Property Rights

The Namibian legal system protects and facilitates acquisition and disposition of property such as land, buildings, and mortgages. All deeds of sales are registered with the Deeds Office. Property is usually purchased through real estate agents and most banks provide credit through mortgages. The Namibian Constitution prohibits expropriation without just compensation.

Namibia is a party to the WIPO Convention, the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, and the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property. Namibia is also a party to the Protocol Relating to the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks and the Patent Cooperation Treaty. Namibia is a signatory to the WIPO Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty.

The responsibility for IPR protection is divided among three government ministries. The Ministry of Trade and Industry oversees industrial property and is responsible for the registration of companies, private corporations, patents, trademarks, and designs. The Ministry of Information and Communication Technology manages copyright protection, while the Ministry of Environment and Tourism protects indigenous plant varieties and any associated traditional knowledge of these plants. In January 2009 the Ministry of Trade and Industry circulated a draft industrial property bill, which proposes to establish an Industrial Property Office to handle the administration of patents, marks and designs. The law has not yet been passed.

The Ministry of Information and Communication Technology has drafted amendments to the Copyright and Neighboring Rights Protection Act of 1994 with the aim of bringing it in line with the TRIPS Agreement and the WIPO treaties. The amendments also aim to improve standards of IPR protection and include new aspects such as satellite, traditional knowledge and folklore issues. They have not yet been passed and enacted, however. Two copyright organizations, the Namibian Society of Composers and Authors of Music (NASCAM) and the Namibian Reproduction Rights Organization (NAMRRO), are the key driving forces behind the government’s anti-piracy campaigns. NASCAM administers intellectual property rights for authors, composers and publishers of music. NAMRRO protects all other intellectual property rights including literary, artistic, broadcasting, satellite, traditional knowledge and folklore.

Transparency of Regulatory System

Namibia has a bicameral legislature comprising the National Assembly and National Council. Most power rests in the National Assembly. While committees in both houses can consider and make recommendations on legislative proposals, in practice, the National Assembly standing committees make recommendations on proposed bills to the National Assembly. The committees are required to solicit citizen and civil society participation when reviewing bills and government agency performance. Sector-based and non-government organizations often work with the Ministry of Justice and other government agencies to sponsor legislation or provide technical expertise for draft legislation. Namibia also has a fledgling lobby movement.

In many sectors, a relatively effective and transparent regulatory system exists. In 2000, the government established the Electricity Control Board (ECB), www.ecb.org.na, which is responsible for regulating the energy sector. The Namibian parastatal responsible for providing electricity, NamPower, currently enjoys a monopoly. However, the ECB’s core function is to regulate electricity generation, transmission, distribution, supply, import and export within the country. The ECB’s vision is for Namibia to have a competitive and transparent electricity market. As regulator, the ECB is responsible for recommending to the Minister of Mines and Energy which companies or entities should receive licenses.

Click here for Fitch’s credit rating for NamPower: http://www.fitchratings.com/corporate/ratings/issuer_content.cfm?issr_id=82576967

Parliament passed a new Communications Act which the President signed into law in October 2009. The new act replaces the Namibian Communications Commission Act (Act 4 of 1992) and amends certain relevant sections under the Posts and Telecommunications Act, 1992 (Act 19 of 1992). Advocates of the new act argued it was needed to level the playing field for all telecommunication operators and improve competition. Under the act, the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN) replaces the Namibian Communication Commission (NCC), which only had limited regulatory authority. Although the CRAN has greater powers than its predecessor, civil society groups argue that the new act does not provide the CRAN enough regulatory independence. Such groups note that the Minister of Information and Communication Technology alone may appoint the CRAN Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson, and that the Minister must concur on the prescribing of any new broadcast licenses. The state-owned Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) - which transmits TV and radio services - is exempted from licensing procedures enumerated in the act. The act also contains intelligence gathering (intercept) provisions which civil society groups have argued violate civil liberties and the Namibian constitution. To comply with the intercept provisions, telecommunications companies could be saddled with many technical burdens and significantly higher costs, critics argue.

The Bank of Namibia (BoN) regulates the banking sector. The Namibia Financial Institutions Supervisory Authority (NAMFISA) regulates non-banking financial institutions. The authority aims to reduce financial crime through developing and implementing effective regulatory systems.

Efficient Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment

There is a free flow of financial resources within Namibia and throughout Common Monetary Area (CMA) countries of the South African Customs Union (SACU) which include Namibia, Swaziland, South Africa and Lesotho. Capital flows with the rest of the world are relatively free, subject to South African exchange controls (discussed above in Conversion and Transfer Policies). The Namibia Financial Institutions Supervisory Authority (NAMFISA) registers portfolio managers and supervises the actions of the Namibian Stock Exchange (NSX) and other non-banking financial institutions.

Although the NSX is the second largest stock exchange in Africa, this distinction is largely because many South African firms listed on the Johannesburg exchange are also listed (dual listed) on the NSX. For additional information on the Namibian Stock Exchange, please visit: http://www.nsx.com.na/. The government has also introduced investment incentives to attract mutual funds and foreign portfolio investors that have energized emerging stock markets elsewhere in the developing world. By law, Namibia’s government pension fund and other Namibian funds are required to allocate a certain percentage of their holdings to Namibian investments. Namibia has a world-class banking system that offers all the services needed by a large company.

There are no laws or practices by private firms in Namibia enabling incorporations to prohibit foreign investment, participation or control; nor are there any laws or practices by private firms or government precluding foreign participation in industry standards setting consortia.

Competition from State Owned Enterprises

While Namibian companies are generally open to foreign investment, government owned enterprises have to date generally been closed to all investors (Namibian and foreign). State Owned Enterprises (SOE – also known as parastatals) include a wide variety of commercial companies, financial institutions, regulatory bodies, educational institutions, boards and agencies. Generally, employment at SOEs is highly sought after because their remuneration packages are not bound by public service constraints. The following are the most prominent commercial SOEs:

• Air Namibia (Air carrier)
• Namibia Airports Company (Airport management company)
• Namibia Wildlife Resorts (Tourism)
• Namport (Maritime Port Authority)
• Nampost (Postal and courier services)
• Namwater (Water sanitation and provisioning)
• Roads Contractor Company
• Telecom Namibia (Fixed-line telecommunications)
• TransNamib (Rail company)
• NamPower (Energy generation and transmission)

The government owns a host of other enterprises, from media ventures to a fishing company. In December 2009, the Minister of Mines and Energy inaugurated Epangelo Mining, a wholly government-owned mining company. Parastatals own assets worth approximately 40% of GDP and most receive government subsidies. In certain industries, SOEs have been perennially unprofitable and have only managed to stay solvent because of government subsidies. In industries where private companies compete with SOEs (i.e., tourism, fishing, communications, etc) SOEs are sometimes perceived to receive favorable concessions from government.

Foreign investors have participated in joint ventures with government in certain sectors (i.e., mobile telecommunications and mining). The Government sold a 34% share in 2006 in its state-owned mobile phone company, MTC, to Portugal Telecom. However, a U.S. business criticized the process for a lack of transparency and unfair bidding practices designed to favor one party. NamDeb, a 50-50 partnership between the government and DeBeers has mined Namibia’s land-based diamonds since 1994.

There has been some debate on whether to list parastatal companies on the Namibian Stock Exchange (NSX), but there are no plans to do so in the near future. Parastatals provide most of the essential services such as telecommunications, transport, water, and electricity.

A 2001 report on ‘a Governance Policy Framework for State-owned Enterprises in Namibia’ found low tax payments from various SOE’s, high levels of debt and high profits due to monopoly pricing.

The 2006 State Owned Enterprises Governance Act, which has yet to be fully implemented, requires each SOE to submit an annual business and financial report to its portfolio minister at least three months prior to the beginning of each financial year. This Act will establish a Cabinet Committee called the SOE Governance Council consisting of the Prime Minister, the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Trade and Industry, the Attorney General and the Director General of the National Planning Commission which will be tasked with developing common principles of good governance and a common policy framework. This Council also will approve the appointment of board members. To date, the Cabinet Minister whose portfolio includes oversight of a particular SOE nominates the SOE’s board members but must get Cabinet approval before the board member can be officially appointed.

Namibia does not have a Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF). The Government Institution Pension Fund (GIPF) is a pension fund established to provide retirement and benefits for employees in the service of the Namibian Government as well as institutions established by an Act of the Namibian Parliament. According to the GIPF, it represents 61% of the Namibian retirement funds industry.

Corporate Social Responsibility

There is a general awareness of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in Namibia amongst the business community, although there is little research to show that Namibian consumers choose to trade with firms based on their CSR programs. Most large firms including SOEs have well defined (and publicized) social responsibility programs that provide assistance in areas such as education, health, environmental management, sports, and Small Medium Enterprise (SME) development. Many firms include their Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) programs within their larger CSR programs. Firms operating in the mining sector – Namibia’s most important industry – generally have visible CSR programs that focus on education, community resource management and environmental sustainability, health, and BEE.

Political Violence

Namibia is a stable multi-party and multi-racial democracy. The protection of human rights is enshrined in the Namibian constitution, and the government generally respected those rights. Political violence is rare, but there were some political confrontations and violent incidents in 2008 and 2009 between supporters of the Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) and SWAPO party members. Nevertheless, damage to commercial projects and/or installations as a result of political violence is considered unlikely.

State Department’s 2009 Human Rights Report for Namibia: http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/af/135968.htm

Corruption

Transparency International ranked Namibia 56 out of 180 countries in its 2009 corruption perceptions index, which measures the perceptions of businesses and country analysts about the degree of corruption in a country. A score of 10 reflects a “highly clean” and 0 reflects a “highly corrupt” nation. Namibia scored 4.5 just behind South Africa’s score of of 4.7. Only four sub-Saharan African countries (Botswana, South Africa, Mauritius and Seychelles) ranked higher.
See:
http://www.transparency.org/policy_research/surveys_indices/cpi/2009/cpi_2009_table

The Namibian Government has adopted a policy of “zero tolerance” for corruption. The Namibian Government passed the Anti-Corruption Act in May 2003, appointed the director and deputy director of the resulting Anti-Corruption Commission in October 2005, and launched the opening of the office in 2006. The Commission attempts to complement civil society’s anti-corruption programs and support existing institutions such as the Ombudsman's Office and Attorney General. Anti-corruption legislation is in place to combat public corruption. Some critics charge that the ACC narrowly interprets its mandate and focuses on minor cases. In 2009, the ACC filed charges against a number of high-profile government officials.

Namibia has signed and ratified the UN Convention Against Corruption and the African Union’s African Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption. Namibia signed the Southern African Development Community’s Protocol Against Corruption.

Bilateral Investment Agreements

Namibia has ratified reciprocal investment promotion and protection treaties with Switzerland, Malaysia, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Cuba, Finland, Spain, Austria, Angola, Vietnam, Italy and China. There is no bilateral investment agreement and no bilateral tax treaty between the United States and Namibia. In 2008, SACU (of which Namibia is a member) signed a Trade, Investment and Development Cooperation Agreement (TIDCA) with the United States.

As a member of the Southern African Customs Union (SACU), Namibia will be a beneficiary of SACU’s free trade agreement with the European Free Trade Association (Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland) currently awaiting signatures and is part of negotiations for trade agreements with the U.S. and Mercosur (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay). SACU plans to extend its free trade network to the EU, China, Egypt, India, Kenya, and Nigeria. Namibia also has an FTA with Zimbabwe that was finalized in 1993.

For additional information, please contact:

Directorate of International Trade
Private Bag 13340
Windhoek, Namibia
Tel: +264-61-283-7331
Fax: +264-61-253865
E-mail: dit@mti.gov.na

OPIC and Other Investment Insurance Programs

The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (opic) provides political risk insurance to qualified u.s. investors in Namibia. In June 2005, OPIC approved a $25.2 million credit facility to enhance the operations of NamGem Diamond Manufacturing Company Ltd. (NamGem). The U.S. sponsor of the project was Lazare Kaplan International Inc. (LKI). OPIC also has invested in Helios Sub-Saharan Africa Fund which in turn invested in Africatel Holdings (“Africatel”). Africatel, a subsidiary of PortugalTelecom Group, owns 34% of Namibia’s largest cell provider MTC, while the government owns the remaining 66%.

Namibia is also a member of the World Bank’s Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (miga), which performs a similar function. MIGA has so far not issued any guarantees for investment, but Namibia has been an active beneficiary of MIGA's technical assistance services.

Labor

The Namibian Constitution allows for the formation of independent trade unions to protect workers’ rights and to promote sound labor relations and fair employment practices. Namibia has ratified six of the International Labor Organization’s fundamental conventions. Businesses operating within the EPZ are required to adhere to the Labor Act.

While there is a pool of qualified workers in varying professions in Namibia, there is a shortage of highly skilled labor. Employers often cite labor productivity as their biggest challenge. The Government offers manufacturing companies special tax deductions of up to 25 percent if they provide technical training to employees. The Government will also reimburse companies for costs directly related to employee training under approved conditions.

In 2007, Namibia passed a new Labor Act. The new law, which entered into force in November 2008, prohibits discrimination in the workplace and establishes new protections for pregnant workers as well as employees infected with HIV/AIDS. The act provides for arbitration and conciliation as a means to resolve labor disputes more quickly. The act contained a provision that prohibited the hiring of temporary or contract workers, but the provision was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. Amendments to the Labor Act to regulate the hiring of contract workers are being drafted.

Foreign-Trade Zones/Free Ports

Foreign firms enjoy the same investment opportunities as local companies. There are no free ports in Namibia, although NamPort, the national port authority, is considering establishing a free port distribution center at Walvis Bay.

Export processing Zones (EPZ)

Companies with Export Processing Zone (EPZ) status can set up operations anywhere in Namibia. There are no restrictions on the industrial sector provided that the exports are destined for markets outside the SACU region, earn foreign exchange, and employ Namibians. EPZ benefits include no corporate tax, no import duties on the importation of capital equipment or raw materials, and no VAT, sales tax, stamp or transfer duties on goods and services required for EPZ activities. Non-residents operating in an EPZ may hold foreign currency accounts in local banks. The Government also provides grants to EPZ companies for training programs to improve Namibian workers’ skills and productivity.

The Offshore Development Company (ODC) administers the country’s Export Processing Zone (EPZ) regime. However, ODC has been at the center of a corruption scandal involving the loss of 100 million Namibian dollars (approximately 10 million USD) in investments. ODC maintains that it is financially stable and is negotiating repayment.

Further information on ODC and EPZs is available at:

http://www.mti.gov.na/subpage.php?linkNo=16

http://www.embnamibia.at/NAMIBIA/tradeInvestment/export_processing_zone_investorguide.pdf

For more information on investment incentives: http://www.mti.gov.na/subpage.php?linkNo=22

For information on Namibia’s Walvis Bay port EPZ managed by the Walvis Bay EPZ Management Company, please click: http://www.wbepzmc.iway.na

Foreign Direct Investment Statistics

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) estimates that in 2008, FDI stocks were equivalent to 39 percent of GDP, and FDI inflows represented 36 percent of gross fixed capital formation. For country specific figures up to 2008, please see the UNCTAD website and select Namibia:

http://www.unctad.org/Templates/Page.asp?intItemID=3198&lang=1

Web Resources

Government of the Republic of Namibia: www.grnnet.gov.na

Namibian Parliament: www.parliament.gov.na

Ministry of Trade and Industry: www.mti.gov.na

Bank of Namibia: www.bon.com.na

Namibia Financial Institutions Supervisory Authority (Namfisa): www.namfisa.com.na

Namibia Stock Exchange: www.nsx.com.na

Namibia Labor Resource and Research Institute (LARRI): www.larri.com.na

Namibia Communication Commission (NCC): www.ncc.org.na

Fitch’s Ratings: www.fitchratings.com

World Economic Forum: www.weforum.org



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