Covid-19 unlocked manufacturing opportunities
Namibia’s real gross domestic product contracted by 8.5% in 2020, with the worst-hit sector, hotels and restaurants, shrinking by 31.2%.
The economy was only expected to recover gradually during 2021 by 1.4%, and then to improve to a 3.4% growth rate in 2022, according to statistics provided by the Bank of Namibia.
Retrenchments and job losses, reported at 13 000 during 2020 and the first half of 2021, have seen Namibians being laid off as a direct consequence of the pandemic, exacerbating the precarious unemployment situation in the country. Job losses and reduced income have affected the ability of some business owners to repay their credit due to the prolonged weak economic environment, now worsened by the pandemic.
Ministry spokesperson Elijah Mukobonda said the pandemic has helped unlock opportunities.
“The pandemic unlocked opportunities and presented outlooks, in particular, around domestic production capacities in various areas, optimised economic dynamism, and translated them into innovative ventures for economic sustainability,” he said.
As a consequence of the pandemic, the ministry has made efforts to assist businesses to operate effectively, he added.
“The ministry, as the custodian for business development and support in general, made considerable effort to assist entrepreneurs in several ways, especially during the early stages of the pandemic, and continued to work with strategic partners in order to provide the much-needed support to entrepreneurs."
"Government adopted various policies geared towards supporting especially the private sector to play its role in setting the economy on a better growth trajectory. The ministry continued to use relevant policies in a quest to enhance industrial capacity and to optimise market access for locally made products. Overall, government provided support to promote SME development and economic inclusiveness," he added.
Government also affected
Government was not excluded from the damning effects of the pandemic, Mukobonda said.
"The pandemic turned lives upside down in every sector – industrialisation and trade were not an exception. Despite the pandemic, the ministry remained committed to delivering on its mandate and a number of developments to enhance a conducive working environment for business."