Despite the ongoing effect of the pandemic on general economic activity throughout the global economy, business confidence in Namibia has been gradually improving.
This perception is based on the registration of new businesses that have increased, year-on-year, during the first quarter of 2021. This number has, however, decreased on a quarterly basis.
The total number of registrations of new businesses increased by 10.5% year-on-year, but fell by 31.1% quarter-on-quarter to 2 406 registered companies. This is according to the Bank of Namibia’s (BoN’s) quarterly bulletin that shows the yearly increase was reflected in both the close corporation and private company categories, suggesting that overall business confidence is gradually improving. On a quarterly basis, the decrease was mainly attributed to seasonal factors.
Furthermore, employment in the wholesale and retail trade sector increased, while it continued to decrease in the manufacturing sector, year-on-year, during the first quarter of 2021.
“Employment in the wholesale sector rose by 5.2% and in retail trade rose by 6.1% year-on-year and quarter-on-quarter,” reads the report.
The year-on-year increase in employment in the wholesale and retail trade sector was mainly reflected in the supermarket and wholesale subsectors. In contrast, employment in the manufacturing sector continued to decline by 9.8% and 0.7%, year-on-year and quarter-on-quarter, respectively.
The central bank said the yearly lower employment in the manufacturing sector was partly attributed to the suspension of the production of refined zinc, worsened by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
It added that unit labour costs for the manufacturing sector increased year-on-year and quarter-on-quarter during the first quarter of 2021.
Total unit labour costs for the manufacturing sector increased by 8.5% and 7.6%, year-on-year and quarter-on-quarter, respectively, during the first quarter of 2021.
The year-on-year increase in the sector’s unit labour costs was mainly due to a decrease in output per worker registered in the beverages, basic metals, printing and publishing subsectors, alongside increased average wages. The increase in the total unit labour costs for the manufacturing sector suggests less competitiveness in the export market.