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Economy keeps contracting for first quarter 2019. Fourth quarter 2018 revised down more

Economy keeps contracting for first quarter 2019. Fourth quarter 2018 revised down more

The economy continued contracting for the first calendar quarter of this year according to statistics released by the Namibia Statistics Agency on Thursday.

Statistician General, Mr Alex Shimuafeni reported a 2% quarterly contraction compared to a 0.5% contraction in the first quarter of 2018. “Year on year Real GDP for the first quarter of 2019 stood at N$27.026 billion compared to N$27.589 billion, showing the sum of real value added for sectors shrunk by N$563 million. The deterioration in the economy is observed across major sectors with more than half of the sectors posting declines in real value added,” he said.

On top of this bad news came more bad news. The contraction for the last calendar quarter of 2018 was more severe than preliminary data revealed. The contraction in fourth quarter 2018 GDP was revised further downward from -1.7% to -1.9%. This revision was necessitated by updated data for fishing, mining, agriculture and utilities. Fishing, in particular, stands out as it has been adjusted from a contraction of -2.6% to an expansion of 10.8%, a statistically very significant adjustment of positive 13.4% but not sufficient to reverse the overall GDP contraction.

In general, the first quarter contraction stems mainly from Construction (-27.8%), Wholesale & Retail (-6.7%), Agriculture & Forestry (-6.7%) and Hotels & Restaurants (-8.7%).

Moderate contractions were recorded for Public Administration & Defence (1.2%); Transport and Communication (0.5%) and Mining & Quarrying (1.1%)

Reflecting low consumer demand and severely reduced capital investment, the trade surplus was positive for the first time since the second calendar quarter of 2011.

The only sectors that expanded during the first 2019 calendar quarter were Fishing (1.1%), Manufacturing (3.6%), Utilities (2.7%), Financial Intermediation (1.4%), Real Estate & Business Services (0.4%), Education (1.3%), Financial Intermediation Services Indirectly Measured (4.6%) and Health (2.4%).

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About The Author

Daniel Steinmann

Educated at the University of Pretoria: BA (hons), BD. Postgraduate degrees in Philosophy and Divinity. Publisher and Editor of the Namibia Economist since February 1991. Daniel Steinmann has steered the Economist as editor for the past 32 years. The Economist started as a monthly free-sheet, then moved to a weekly paper edition (1996 to 2016), and on 01 December 2016 to a daily digital newspaper at It is the first Namibian newspaper to go fully digital. He is an authority on macro-economics having established a sound record of budget analysis, strategic planning and assessing the impact of policy formulation. For eight years, he hosted a weekly talk-show on NBC Radio, explaining complex economic concepts to a lay audience in a relaxed, conversational manner. He was a founding member of the Editors' Forum of Namibia. Over the years, he has mentored hundreds of journalism students as interns and as young professional journalists. From time to time he helps economics students, both graduate and post-graduate, to prepare for examinations and moderator reviews. He is the Namibian respondent for the World Economic Survey conducted every quarter for the Ifo Center for Business Cycle Analysis and Surveys at the University of Munich in Germany. Since October 2021, he conducts a weekly talkshow on Radio Energy, again for a lay audience. On 04 September 2022, he was ordained as a Minister of the Dutch Reformed Church of Africa (NHKA). Send comments or enquiries to [email protected]