COVID-19 shatters Namibians’ hope for improved economy

Nigerian Economy

By Ndalimpinga Iita

When Rosa Tobias lost her job as a contract worker in the construction sector in 2018 amid the country’s economic downturn, she turned to other trades to make ends meet.

Namibia’s economy slowed considerably since 2016, according to the World Bank.

She resorted to selling commodities to learners at a school, and also ran a salon business on weekends in Namibia’s capital Windhoek.

Income has been unstable. Tobias hoped things would improve with the projected economic recovery in 2020.

Namibia’s economy remained weak in 2019 and was expected to recover during 2020, according to the latest economic outlook report by the Bank of Namibia.

However, the COVID-19 outbreak has shattered her hopes for an improved economy amid uncertain incomes.

Namibia’s Ministry of Health and Social Services has confirmed seven coronavirus cases.

The Namibian Government has since resolved for the closure of early childhood development centres and schools.

President Hage Geingob on Tuesday also announced more stringent measures in the fight against COVID-19, declaring a lockdown in the Khomas and Erongo regions.

Since the announcement of such measures, in particular the temporary closure of schools, according to Tobias, she had not managed to find a promising site to trade her commodities, thus incurred significant losses.

The hair salon business activities are also set to be halted from March 27 until April 16 as a result of the lockdown.

“Although the future is uncertain, I was hopeful that things would improve in 2020, and for broader hope economic recovery this year as it was predicted so that we can emerge victorious from the suffering over the past years. But that is all now just a dream,” she said, ” I am hopeless.”

She is not the only one.

Negumbo Mikka drives a taxi, mainly transporting learners and students. But since schools closed, his economic conditions dwindled.

Mikka, 37, is hard to secure business as schools and universities are temporarily closed following the COVID-19 outbreak.

“I have since resorted to transporting people during the day in town. But business is slow. People are avoiding taking public transport to evade close contact. We are disadvantaged,” he said.

Like Tobias, Mikka too was hopeful of improved economic growth that would spur his business into prosperity in 2020.

“The current situation is contrary to my set goals. I now have to dig into my savings to pay rent and food as I will not have an income over the coming weeks, life is hard,” he added.

Eric Van Zyl, head of sales and research at IJG Holdings at a recently held public forum said that Namibia’s economic activities for 2020 were expected to grow by 1.1 per cent.

Meanwhile, the Mikka’s vision is to lift himself out of an unsustainable path into growth when things go back to normal.

“I hope all people in Namibia adhere to the precautionary measures set in light of COVID-19 so that we can resume duties post-April 16, and realise our goals,” Mikka said.

Local economist Mally Likukela projected that the spread of COVID-19 will negatively impact Namibia’s economic growth, as economic activities decline or come to a standstill.

Likukela said that this is attributed to the limited and constrained interaction of people coupled with suspended gatherings as well as lockdown, subsequently affecting business activities and broader socio-economic conditions.

In the interim, the traders committed to adhering to lockdown and other precautionary measures in place to aid in halting further spread of the virus.

“Hopefully things will come back to normal so that we can resume normal business and social routines. We need to earn an income,” said Tobias. Enditem

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