Tuesday, 15 Jan 2013
Overseas Business Risk - Namibia
Doing Business in Namibia is an essential read to help UK Companies avoid some of the common pitfalls businesses can face in Namibia. The guide offers a wide range of advice on issues such as: economy, operating environment, regulatory and tax environment, and the UK Bribery Act 2011
Political and Economic
Independent Namibia was born out of a protracted struggle for national self-determination from European colonial powers and apartheid South Africa. National independence on 21st March 1990 was achieved after forty years of struggle, including peaceful resistance, armed struggle and a protracted bush war and a prolonged intensive diplomatic engagement with many of the world’s major powers centering on the United Nations. The cornerstone of independent Namibia’s system of government is the Namibian Constitution, agreed by consensus as a result of the multi-party Constituent Assembly in 1989. It makes provision for regular democratic elections, guaranteeing property rights, and welcoming foreign investment.
Namibia is an open economy closely tied in many ways to South Africa through continued membership of the Southern African Customs Union and the Common Monetary Area. In the last ten years Namibia has achieved average annual economic growth of 4.5%. Namibia’s economy is relatively diversified with important primary, secondary and tertiary sectors.
Business and Human rights
Namibia's constitution includes a list of 'fundamental rights and freedoms', and strictures against discrimination as well as provision for independent entities - such as an Ombudsman - to protect human rights. There is a flourishing NGO community involved in political and civic education. In general, freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining were respected by the government and employers, and workers exercised these rights in practice.
The law prohibits all forms of forced or compulsory labour, including by children, and although NGOs and media have alleged that these still do occur, the International Labour Organisation has noted Namibia’s drafting of regulations to combat child labour in hazardous sectors and inter-ministerial directive that all reports of child labour are to be investigated.
However, there continue to some challenges for human rights in Namibia include political intolerance, excessive force by security forces against HR defenders and protestors; lengthy pre-trial detention and long delays during trials, and discrimination against women, ethnic groups and indigenous peoples.
Bribery and Corruption
Bribery is illegal. It is an offence for British nationals or someone who is ordinarily resident in the UK, a body incorporated in the UK or a Scottish partnership, to bribe anywhere in the world.
In addition, a commercial organisation carrying on a business in the UK can be liable for the conduct of a person who is neither a UK national or resident in the UK or a body incorporated or formed in the UK. In this case it does not matter whether the acts or omissions which form part of the offence take place in the UK or elsewhere.
Businessman working at a computer
There is a low threat from terrorism. But you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate tourist attacks which could be in public areas, including those frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.
Protective Security Advice
While most visits to Namibia are problem free, visitors should be aware that problems can arise.
There are growing levels of violent street crime affecting foreign tourists, particularly in Windhoek. Muggers in Windhoek frequently target foreign tourists. Attacks can take place even in busy city centre locations in broad daylight.
You should keep your car doors locked and windows shut, especially in heavy traffic. Keep valuables off the seats and out of sight. There are incidents where gangs try to gain entry to vehicles at busy intersections in Windhoek, including during the day. Be alert to your surroundings if returning to your guest house or hotel, especially after dark.
Theft from vehicles, particularly at service stations, is common, so where possible do not leave your vehicle unattended at fuel stops. Elsewhere, keep your vehicle locked and valuable possessions out of sight.
Residents of Namibia have reported incidents of interception of mail and theft of mail contents by Post Office workers in Namibia. Any valuable parcels or documents (e.g. bank and credit cards) should be sent by registered mail at least and preferably by a reputable commercial courier company.
Beware of pickpockets in town centres. Do not use taxis available for street hailing, particularly in Windhoek, as these have been involved in thefts from foreign tourists. Instead, ask your hotel, guest house or tour operator to recommend a reputable taxi company. Do not enter townships at night unless accompanied by someone with local knowledge.
Take precautions to safeguard valuables and cash, and deposit them in hotel safes, where practical. Keep large amounts of money, expensive jewellery, cameras and cell phones out of sight. Do not change large sums of money in busy public areas. Keep separate copies of important documents, including passports.
Remain with your group when visiting parks and game reserves.
There have been cases of credit card skimming at some hotels and lodges around the country; unscrupulous employees have been accused of copying card details onto hand-held readers and passing the details on to criminal gangs. Visiting foreign tourists have been targeted. When paying by credit card, keep the card in full view at all times and always check your statement carefully to ensure you do not become a victim of fraud