The Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA) reported at the end of June that the Namibian economy has grown by 5 percent during the first quarter of 2023.

This is despite the fact that unconfirmed reports from different sources indicate that poverty has become worse in Namibia during the same period.

According to the NSA, “During the period under review, the economy grew by 5.0 percent compared to 7.3 percent recorded in the corresponding quarter of 2022.

“The slow performance is largely attributable to the contractions observed in the sectors of Financial services activities, Manufacturing activities, and ‘Public administration and defence’.

“Additionally, the ‘Agriculture and forestry’ and Health sectors experienced notable slowdowns.”

On the other hand, sectors such as ‘Mining and quarrying’ and ‘Electricity and water’ witnessed an increase in economic activities during the period under review. Activities also picked up in the sectors of ‘Administrative and support services’, ‘Transport and storage’, ‘Wholesale and retail trade’, and ‘Hotels and restaurants’.

“However, economic activities came under pressure in the Financial services activities, Manufacturing and ‘Public administration and defence’, registering declines in real value added of 4.9 percent, 2.7 percent, and 1.5, correspondingly,” the report says.

Mining and quarrying continued as the main contributor to the GDP growth rate of 5.0 percent registered in the first quarter of 2023, contributing 3.7 percent points followed by ‘Wholesale and retail’ and ‘Electricity and water’ with the contribution of 0.5 percent points and 0.4 percentage points respectively.

The sluggish performance in the Agriculture and forestry sector is primarily attributed to the Crop farming subsector, which experienced a contraction of 3.6 percent during the first quarter of 2023 relative to a growth of 3.2 percent posted in the parallel quarter of 2022.

“The performance is associated with the adverse impact of the inadequate, delayed, and erratic rainfall.”

Additionally, the Livestock subsector experienced a slowdown in the first quarter of 2023. The subsector posted a growth of 5.3 percent in real value added, relative to the 9.5 percent recorded in the same quarter of the previous year.

The poor performance is primarily attributed to the decline of the number of cattle marketed to export approved abattoirs and butchers, which declined by 5.9 percent whist the number of cattle exported live (on hoof) increased by 5.7 percent, a slow growth, relative to a double-digit growth of 13.7 percent posted in the corresponding quarter of the preceding year.

When contacted for comment, Mr Thomas Kanyanga, an economist and statistician at the Namibia Statistics Agency, said that the “GDP First Quarter 2023 Report” is merely concerned with compiling and sharing information about productivity at workplaces and in sectors, without differentiating whether the productivity is a result of labour productivity or by machinery or foreigners.

Therefore the report does not give a picture of the level of poverty or unemployment in the country.

“In the GDP’s National Accounts what we normally do, we calculate the production. It is about calculating how much was produced in Namibia in comparison to last year.

“For example, we don’t calculate the employment, like how many people are employed or how many unemployed during the period,” Kanyanga explained.

“Our interest is just the productivity of the economy.”

In the photo: Namibia Statistics Agency’s 2023 First Quarter Report.