Namibia expects economy to grow in 2020 driven by the mining sector

B2Gold’s Otjikoto mine in Namibia

Namibia’s economy is likely to expand this year, driven by growth in the mining sector, after a projected 1.7% contraction in 2019, central bank governor Ipumbi Shiimi said on Wednesday.

Shiimi said he expected growth to be driven by increased diamond output as all five mining vessels owned by marine diamond producer Debmarine – which mines high-quality diamonds from the ocean floor using hi-tech surveying equipment – are expected to be in full production during the year.

Diamond mining is the largest taxpayer in Namibia and generates 20% of the country’s export earnings

Diamond mining is the largest taxpayer in Namibia and generates 20% of the southern African country’s export earnings.

“In 2020, we believe that the mining sector is going to have better growth, especially diamond mining,” Shiimi told Reuters.

Shiimi voiced concern over the impact of the coronavirus outbreak in China on the industry, however.

“China is the number one buyer of diamonds in the world, so with the outbreak of the virus, demand could be negatively affected.”

Construction and the wholesale and retail sectors were also expected to make a positive contribution to growth, Shiimi said.

“So those will probably be able to generate a bit of positive growth, but not significant,” he said.

(By Nyasha Nyaungwa; Editing by Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo and Hugh Lawson)

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