Fuel smuggling continues unabated in northern Namibia, but both governments are concerned and unhappy with this practice as even young children have been involved to make a living. After fuel price increases in Namibia, smugglers eyed this as a business opportunity. Mines and energy minister Tom Alweendo said it has come to his attention that the Angolan government is disturbed by the fact that Namibians benefit from subsidised fuel in their country.
“Angolans are not happy because they were not intending to subsidise Namibians. They are disturbed that Namibians go and buy fuel in Angola illegally and export it to Namibia without Angolan permission. Both governments are concerned, and not only the Namibian government. It’s another thing to go fill your car there,” Alweendo said last week during a media briefing.
These more affordable refills are preferred over the current astronomical pump prices of N$19.10 per litre for petrol and N$20.23 per litre for diesel (Walvis Bay prices), respectively, and are conducted at makeshift service stations. This is where illegal fuel sellers emerge from the bushes to offer cheaper fuel smuggled from Angola, Namibia’s oil-rich neighbour.
Between March 2021 and March 2022, the domestic petrol price increased from N$12.65 to N$17.15, while diesel increased from N$12.68 to N$17.28 per litre. This represented an increment of N$4.50 and N$4.60 in petrol and diesel, respectively, within a period of 12 months.
New Era earlier reported that these smugglers sell their fuel from under a tree at Oshikango, where motorists purchase five litres for between N$35 and N$45, depending on the seller. The government, through the ministry of mines and energy, says these informal fuel traders are breaking the law and can be prosecuted.
At the same occasion, Alweendo said establishing a local oil refinery will not promise cheap fuel for domestic consumption, but could ensure security of supply. He added that the country has been receiving investors who want to built the refinery, but it failed because of the economics involved in such a refinery.
According to him, the Namibian market is too small to make it economically profitable.