ECONOMIC growth in the fourth quarter of last year was 4,3% - better than the contraction of 3,7% in the third quarter but significantly lower than the 10,4% of the final quarter of 2011, official figures of the Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA) have shown.
"While it is growth, it is slowing growth," Rowland Brown, president of the Economic Association of Namibia, said yesterday.
Seasonally adjusted gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the fourth quarter of 2012 was not only better than the previous quarter; it was the highest quarterly growth for the year. First quarter growth stood at 0,6%, while GDP growth in the second quarter was 2,5%.
The NSA is still fine-tuning its data and the official economic growth figure for 2012 will be released next week, Statistician General John Steytler said.
Steytler said year-on-year, Namibia's weaker economic performance in the fourth quarter of 2012 was mainly the result of a decline in real value added in three sectors: hotels and restaurants, fishing and manufacturing.
Hotels and restaurants, used as a proxy for the tourism sector, contracted by 16,4% compared to the contraction of 6,4% in the fourth quarter of 2011. "The weak performance was mainly due to a decline in the number of bed nights and room nights sold that declined by 19,8% and 19,3% respectively," Steytler said.
The fishing sector contracted by 10%, compared to an expansion of 20,1% in the fourth quarter of 2011.
Steytler ascribed this to the fact that no landings were recorded in pelagic fisheries as most right-holders had utilised their quotas in the first half of 2012. Also contributing was demersal and mid-water fisheries landings which contracted by 9,2% and 19,7% respectively, he said.
The manufacturing sector, too, contracted. It showed negative growth of 8% in the last quarter of 2012 compared to positive growth of 12% for the same period in 2011.
Steytler said this was mainly the result of a 47,7% decline in the category that includes items such as rubber and chemical products. Traditional manufacturing items such as meat processing, mineral processing and basic metals posted positive growth in the fourth quarter, "although not sufficient to offset the overall decline of the sector", he said.
Sectors which performed well include mining and quarrying with 47,7%, compared to 34,3% in 2011, as well as agriculture with 21,1% compared to 16,6%. The electricity and water sector grew 17,2% versus the 5,2% of the fourth quarter of 2011, while wholesale and retail registered growth of 11,8% compared to 6,7%.
The construction sector grew by 3,7%, lower than the 6,8% registered in the fourth quarter of 2011.
"The slower growth mainly emanated from the value of construction work for the general government sector that recorded a decline of 5%.
"On the other hand, the value of buildings completed in municipalities around the country increased significantly by 108,6%," Steytler said.