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Key findings
  • The share of Namibians who rate the country’s economic condition as “fairly good” or “very good” has dropped from 74% in 2014 to 41%
  • About half (52%) of Namibians describe their personal living conditions as “fairly good” or “very good.”
  • Almost two-thirds (63%) of Namibians say their government is performing “fairly badly” or “very badly” in managing the economy.
  • Youth are somewhat more likely than their elders to see their living conditions as good (55% vs. 48%), but they are less likely to approve of the government’s performance on the economy (31% vs. 40%).
  • One in five Namibians (22%) have given at least “a little” thought to emigrating. Youth are more likely than their elders to think about moving to another country (27% vs. 17%). Namibians’ reasons for considering emigration are predominantly tied to economic issues.

In the past two years, Namibia’s economy has struggled. In 2016, the country saw two consecutive quarters of negative gross domestic product (GDP) growth, officially plunging it into a depression, followed by the first year since 1993 to record a decline in the GDP, by 0.8% in 2017 (Namibia Statistics Agency, 2018). At the same time, unemployment among youth,1 who make up almost 40% of the population, increased to 43.4% in 2016, up from 39.2% in 2014 (Namibia Statistics Agency, 2015, 2017).

Citizens’ perceptions tell a similar story: According to the most recent Afrobarometer survey, the share of Namibians who think the economy is doing poorly is at a historic high, triple the proportion in 2014, and almost two-thirds say the government is doing a bad job of managing the economy. Yet more than half describe their personal living conditions as good, and a majority expect things to get better over the coming year.

Even though youth tend to rate their own living conditions more favourably than their older counterparts, they are particularly critical of the government’s economic management. They are also more likely than their elders to be thinking about moving to another country. Economic considerations feature heavily in these thoughts: By far the most common reason for considering emigration is to find work.

Maximilian Weylandt

Maximilian Weylandt is a research associate for the Institute for Public Policy Research, the Afrobarometer national partner in Namibia.