Namibians are of diverse ethnic origins. The principal groups are the Ovambo, Kavango, Herero/Himba, Damara, Rehoboth Baster Afrikaner, German, English, Portuguese, Nama, Caprivian, San and Tswana.
The Ovambo make up about half of Namibia's people. The Ovambo, Kavango and East Caprivian peoples, who occupy the relatively well-watered and wooded northern part of the country, are settled farmers and herders. Historically, these groups had little contact with the Nama, Damara and Herero, who roamed the central part of the country vying for control of sparse pastureland. People from the more populous north have settled throughout the country in recent decades as a result of urbanization, industrialisation and the demand for labour.
Education and services have been extended in varying degrees to most rural areas in recent years.
The San are generally assumed to have been the earliest inhabitants of the region. Later inhabitants include the Nama and the Damara or Berg Dama. The Bantu-speaking Ovambo and Herero migrated from the north in about the 14th century A.D.
The inhospitable Namib Desert constituted a formidable barrier to European exploration until the late 18th century, when successions of travellers, traders, hunters and missionaries explored the area. In 1878, the United Kingdom annexed Walvis Bay on behalf of Cape Colony and the area was incorporated into the Cape of Good Hope in 1884. In 1883, a German trader, Adolf Luderitz, claimed the rest of the coastal region and the United Kingdom recognised the hinterland as a German sphere of influence.
On December 17, 1920, South Africa undertook administration of South West Africa under the terms of Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations (later United Nations). This was later revoked in 1966 and the South West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO) began its armed struggle to liberate Namibia.
In 1971 the International Court of Justice determined that the South African presence in Namibia was illegal. It wasn’t until 1978 when South Africa agreed to exit Namibia and withdrew all its forces from Namibia in 1979, that 42,000 refugees were able to return home.
The first free elections were held in November 1989 and Almost 98% of registered voters turned out to elect members of the Constituent Assembly. SWAPO took 57% of the vote and on February 9, 1990, the Constituent Assembly adopted a constitution and declared March 21 as Independence Day.
On March 1, 1994, the coastal town of Walvis Bay and 12 offshore islands were transferred to Namibia by South Africa.
The economy is heavily dependent upon mining exports. Mining accounts for 8.8% of GDP (the biggest contributor to GDP behind the government sector) (2010), and provides more than 50% of Exports. Namibia is the world’s fifth largest producer of U308, producing 8.5 Mlbs U3O8 in 2011 behind Kazakhstan (50.6 Mlbs), Canada (23.8 Mlbs), Australia (15.6Mlbs) and Niger (10.8 Mlbs), and also produces gem-quality diamonds, zinc and copper.
Namibia’s total population is 2.3 million (2010 est). Gross National Income (“GNI”) per person is relatively high for the region at US$4,500 (2010 est), although half of the population depends on subsistence agriculture for its livelihood. Namibia imports foodstuffs, construction material and manufactured goods.
A number of infrastructure projects are identified for development. The Kudu Power Project is high on the priority list and, if completed, will make the country self-sufficient in power production. A new desalination plant is also proposed at Mile 6, a short drive north of Swakopmund.
The Namibian Government has, in its Vision 2030 statement, articulated a plan for the country to become an industrial state. The Namibian economy is closely linked to South Africa with the Namibian Dollar pegged one-to-one to the South African Rand. Increased payments from the Southern African Customs Union (“SACU”) put Namibia’s budget into surplus in 2007 for the first time since independence. However, SACU payments have declined rapidly since 2008 and, whilst short term growth at 4.4% (2010) looks positive, the fiscal deficit is projected to widen.
In 2004, the Government initiated consultation with stakeholders to design the black empowerment policy, "Transformational Economic and Social Empowerment Framework" (“TESEF”). The Framework was to embody existing laws, initiate new policy objectives and formulate an implementation strategy.
The stated goals of TESEF were to:
- Develop the framework for the empowerment of previously disadvantaged Namibians on the principles of social justice, economic growth and transformation;
- Design an empowerment framework which is inclusive, transparent and sustainable;
- Put in place various vehicles for empowerment;Identification of barriers to participation, control and ownership of economic assets by previously disempowered Namibians;
- Devise systems to prevent negative tendencies of cronyism, window dressing, favouritism and patronage. Identification of codes of good conduct by industry for empowerment purposes; and
- Devise mechanisms for monitoring, regulation and reporting framework.
New Equitable Economic Empowerment Framework
The TESEF conceptual strategy framework was not approved. It has instead been replaced by the "New Equitable Economic Empowerment Framework" ("NEEEF"). NEEEF consists of policies designed to encourage the private sector to become more equitable and to make a greater contribution towards national economic empowerment and transformation.
The Namibian Government will establish a Commission for New Equitable Economic Empowerment Framework to promote and adminsister the NEEEF. Companies will be scored according to the following 'pillars of empowerment':
- Management control and employment equity;
- Human resources and skills development;
- Entrepeneurship development; and
- Community Investment
Bannerman continues to coordinate a number of training and empowerment programs and employee skills development strategies and is therefore well positioned to comply with the various components within the NEEEF framework.
In Namibia, all mineral rights are vested in the state. The Minerals (Prospecting and Mining) Act of 1992 regulates the mining industry in the country. The Mining Rights and Mineral Resources Division in the Directorate of Mining is usually the first contact for investors as it handles all applications for, and allocation of, mineral rights in Namibia. Several types of mining and prospecting licences exist as follows:
- Non-Exclusive Prospecting Licences, valid for 12 months, permit prospecting non-exclusively in any open group not restricted by other mineral rights.
- Reconnaissance Licences allow regional remote sensing techniques, and are valid for 6 months (renewable under special circumstances) and can be made exclusive in some instances.
- Exclusive Prospecting Licences can cover areas not exceeding 1000 square kms and are valid for 3 years, with two renewals of 2 years each and discretionary renewals thereafter. Two or more EPLs can be issued for more than one mineral in the same area.
- Mineral Deposit Retention Licences (MDRLs) allow successful prospectors to retain rights to mineral deposits which are uneconomical to exploit immediately. MDRLs are valid for up to 5 years and can be renewed subject to limited work and expenditure obligations.
- Mining Licences can be awarded to Namibian citizens and companies registered in Namibia. They are valid for the LOM or an initial 25 years, renewable up to 15 years at a time.
Development of the Etango Project will, based on the DFS, deliver the following significant direct and indirect economic benefits to Namibia:
- Creation of substantial new jobs in both the construction and operating phases. In the former, an average of 800 new jobs, with a maximum of 1,500 jobs, is anticipated. In the operating phase, an average of 1,000 new on-site jobs will be created. The majority of employees are expected to be recruited in Namibia;
- Education and skills development of Namibians working in the operation, with the annual training and education budget incorporated in the DFS capital and operating cost estimates;
- The economic “multiplier effect” of mine and employee expenditure in the local communities and in Namibia generally. Economic modelling by independent experts has indicated that the mine operating phase will create approximately a further 1,500 indirect jobs in the local communities;
- Mineral royalties to the Namibian Government equal to 3% of net revenues, equating to approximately US$14-20 million (N$100-150 million) per year at a base case uranium price of US$75/lb U3O8;
- Company taxes of over US$0.5 billion (N$4 billion) over the life-of-mine at a base case uranium price of US$75/lb U3O8;
- Employee PAYE taxes of at least US$8 million (N$60 million) per year over the life-of-mine;
- Other taxes including import duties; and
- An expansion of Bannerman’s existing reputable corporate social responsibility program which focusses on education and tourism related activities at regional and national levels.
Commencement of the Etango Project, along with other new uranium mining developments in the region, would be expected to lift Namibia to the world’s third largest uranium producing and exporting nation.