In the past two years, Namibia’s economy has struggled. In 2016, the country saw two consecutive quarters of negative gross domestic product (GDP) growth, officially plunging it into a depression, followed by the first year since 1993 to record a decline in the GDP, by 0.8% in 2017 (Namibia Statistics Agency, 2018). At the same time, unemployment among youth,1 who make up almost 40% of the population, increased to 43.4% in 2016, up from 39.2% in 2014 (Namibia Statistics Agency, 2015, 2017).
Citizens’ perceptions tell a similar story: According to the most recent Afrobarometer survey, the share of Namibians who think the economy is doing poorly is at a historic high, triple the proportion in 2014, and almost two-thirds say the government is doing a bad job of managing the economy. Yet more than half describe their personal living conditions as good, and a majority expect things to get better over the coming year.
Even though youth tend to rate their own living conditions more favourably than their older counterparts, they are particularly critical of the government’s economic management. They are also more likely than their elders to be thinking about moving to another country. Economic considerations feature heavily in these thoughts: By far the most common reason for considering emigration is to find work.