Namibia: Minister Blames Supermarkets for Over-Reliance On SA

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Namibia largely depends on South Africa for most goods due to supermarkets stocking mostly South African goods.

This is according to Namibia’s minister of industrialisation and trade, Lucia Iipumbu. Changing the current trend would require a complete overhaul of trading rules and the transformation of the agricultural sector, she says.

This comes against the backdrop of unrest in South Africa, raising fears of disrupted distribution chains. According to the ministry, Namibia imports 80% of its products from South Africa.

“The ripple effect of this disruption will spill over into Namibia in the short to medium term,” Iipumbu says. Several retailers in the country have calmed these fears, saying they are well stocked.

The ministry, however, says considering the riots and the devastating impact of Covid-19, a further turn of events has a high likelihood to cause further price increases on basic import commodities. “It greatly affects the supply of goods to Namibia, which will result in food shortages, and subsequently prices will increase,” the minister says.

Namibia also relies on South Africa for pharmaceuticals and related products which are critical given the Covid-19 pandemic, she says.

Should these expected shortages materialise, it would place the country in a dire situation which could cause panic.

Iipumbu says the disruption gives the country’s policymakers and producers the opportunity to enhance production if consumers would start buying locally.

“Local productive capacities in terms of food can be leveraged to fill some gaps, while the situation returns to normality in our neighbouring country,” she says.Close

Iipumbu says her ministry has been promoting the ‘Buy Local, Grow Namibia’ campaign to encourage a shift in consumer behaviour.

“It is through efforts such as this one that Namibian will release the importance of procuring locally produced products, which would promote productive capacity,” the minister says.

Agribank senior research and product development specialist Indileni Nanghonga says food shortages would be concerning.

She says analysis shows that more than 70% of Namibia’s food consumption is imported from South Africa – partly because local production is not sufficient to meet local demand.

To ensure sufficient supply, shortages are always supplemented by imports from South Africa.

To reduce dependence on South Africa, Nanghonga says the country would need to find another trade partner to ensure that local demand is met.

She says this would still expose the country to external shocks and trade volatility.

Secondly, she advises the enhancement of local production to ensure sufficient local supply of agricultural produce.

Nanghonga says increasing local production alone would not be sufficient unless it is followed by an increase in the local procurement of agricultural produce.

Covid-19 and the fear of trade volatility as a result of the current unrest in South Africa creates an opportunity for Namibia to understand and identify vulnerabilities in food production and supply-chain systems, she says.

“Identifying necessary investments and reforms to further accelerate transformation in the food and agriculture sector will be crucial in building resilience,” she says.

Culled from

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