Economy & Industry
Rich in resources
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Namibia is rich in natural resources such as uranium, zinc, copper, lead, gold, silver, tin, marble and granite. The mining industry brings in half of the country’s foreign earnings.
Namibia is the world’s fourth-largest producer of uranium, which is used to fuel nuclear power stations.
But the highest-earning mining export is diamonds. Namibia supplies nearly a third of the world’s output of these gems. Many of the key mining operations are owned or part-owned by foreign businesses (e.g. South African companies), so not all the revenue goes to Namibia.
The country’s diamonds are found in the deposits of old river beds. Most were probably washed down from the highlands by the Orange River. The main diamond region today is in the south around Oranjemund. But the first diamond rush took place in Kolmanskop – see the Map.
Agriculture and fishing
Exports of meat (mainly to South Africa) bring in around 160 million dollars each year to the economy.
Farming is the second most important industry and many Namibians work in this sector. Some have jobs on ranches where cattle and sheep are raised.
In the centre and north of the country, farming generally takes place on a smaller scale. In these regions, most are subsistence farmers, producing enough for their own needs and selling any surplus crops or animals for cash.
Fishing is also a key sector. The coastal waters of Namibia are rich in fish. In the past, illegal fishing from the boats of other nations caused a huge drop in fish numbers. In 1990, the country declared a 200-mile zone where only Namibians could fish. Since then, stocks have begun recovering.
Many fish are processed and canned along the coast, with exports sent to countries such as Spain and Japan.
In the decade leading up to 2016, income from the tourist sector is expected to grow nearly 7% annually.
The number of tourists to Namibia is growing. A third of visitors come from South Africa and many come from Europe, particularly from Germany.
The main attractions are the country’s stunning landscapes, its wildlife and large areas of unspoiled wilderness. To ensure the tourism economy develops in the right way, many community-development schemes have been set up to ensure locals benefit from the presence of tourists.
Some of the revenue earned by the state from tourism goes to nature conservation projects.