The economy continued contracting for the first calendar quarter of this year according to statistics released by the Namibia Statistics Agency on Thursday.
Statistician General, Mr Alex Shimuafeni reported a 2% quarterly contraction compared to a 0.5% contraction in the first quarter of 2018. "Year on year Real GDP for the first quarter of 2019 stood at N$27.026 billion compared to N$27.589 billion, showing the sum of real value added for sectors shrunk by N$563 million. The deterioration in the economy is observed across major sectors with more than half of the sectors posting declines in real value added," he said.
On top of this bad news came more bad news. The contraction for the last calendar quarter of 2018 was more severe than preliminary data revealed. The contraction in fourth quarter 2018 GDP was revised further downward from -1.7% to -1.9%. This revision was necessitated by updated data for fishing, mining, agriculture and utilities. Fishing, in particular, stands out as it has been adjusted from a contraction of -2.6% to an expansion of 10.8%, a statistically very significant adjustment of positive 13.4% but not sufficient to reverse the overall GDP contraction.
In general, the first quarter contraction stems mainly from Construction (-27.8%), Wholesale & Retail (-6.7%), Agriculture & Forestry (-6.7%) and Hotels & Restaurants (-8.7%).
Moderate contractions were recorded for Public Administration & Defence (1.2%); Transport and Communication (0.5%) and Mining & Quarrying (1.1%)
Reflecting low consumer demand and severely reduced capital investment, the trade surplus was positive for the first time since the second calendar quarter of 2011.
The only sectors that expanded during the first 2019 calendar quarter were Fishing (1.1%), Manufacturing (3.6%), Utilities (2.7%), Financial Intermediation (1.4%), Real Estate & Business Services (0.4%), Education (1.3%), Financial Intermediation Services Indirectly Measured (4.6%) and Health (2.4%).