WINDHOEK – The absence of a centralised database for Namibia’s land statistics is making it extremely difficult for government to make informed decisions on the contentious land issue. This is according to the Chairman of the Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA), Dr John Steytler, who noted during the NSA’s Land Symposium last week that the agency’s recent Land Statistics booklet will provide facts and figures for fruitful engagement on land issues.
While opening the symposium, Steytler noted that the role of statistics in the ongoing land debate is critical and that any plan without the necessary statistics is an incomplete plan.
In agreement with Steytler was the Statistician General and CEO of the NSA, Alex Shimuafeni, who said the Land Symposium, was needed to identify and fill the land data gaps. Shimuafeni added that the symposium would equip stakeholders with crucial information needed for the upcoming Land Conference scheduled for October 1 to 5.
“This is the first time that the NSA is closely examining land statistics databases held by different stakeholders. It is, therefore, my expectation that this exercise will reinforce the need for constant dissemination of land statistics in Namibia. There is, indeed, a need for suitable, reliable and timely statistics in Namibia, not only for social progression, but also for the purpose of policy design and monitoring of progress of various sectors of the economy. The requirements for decision-making have continuously expanded over time. As a result, the role of statistics is critical in providing empirical evidence in planning and policy formulation,” read Shimuafeni’s summary of the NSA booklet.
“It is my hope that the land statistics will inform our debate during and after the second National Land Conference. Furthermore, as a country we need to account for every inch of the country, including our land mass and sea, amidst the changing conditions. Statistics such as land tenure use, productivity, and ownership must be timely and readily accessible for decision-making at all times in order to be relevant for the socio-economic planning and development,” Shimuafeni added.
He explained that as part of its contribution towards the debate of the second National Land Conference, the NSA Board directed the agency to embark upon a compilation exercise for different land statistics in the country. The aim of the exercise was to compile statistics and develop a National Land Statistics Booklet, to highlight in a neutral and objective manner, available statistics in the national land databases.
The booklet is aimed at informing discussions at the National Land Conference by objectively presenting land statistics in a basic form. The NSA established an internal Land Statistics Committee (LSC) specifically to compile and analyse statistics from different sources for the purpose of the land conference.
The statistic series collected by the NSA alone does however not provide a complete picture of the country, since land statistics are generated and managed by different government agencies with defined mandates as part of their administrative records. Therefore, the exercise collected various land statistics mainly from the Agricultural Bank of Namibia, the Ministry of Land Reform, as well as the Namibia Agricultural Union (NAU).
This booklet does provide basic insights from the source data without detailed analysis or inferences. Following data cleaning and validation, basic insights such as percentages, averages, summaries and comparisons were produced.
Where a complete picture of the country is shown, Namibia land mass extent of 824 000 km2 or 82 400 000 hectares. In summary, freehold agricultural (commercial) land constitutes 42 percent of the land surface, followed by communal/customary land at 35 percent. State land which includes parks, restricted areas, townland boundaries and government farms in freehold agricultural land accounts for only 23 percent of the country’s land mass.
In terms of freehold agricultural land which constitutes 39.7 million hectares of the country, previously advantaged farmers own 27.9 million hectares (70 percent) while the previously disadvantaged community own 6.4 million hectares (16 percent). Government owns only 5.4 million hectares (14 percent). Females only own 23 percent of the freehold agricultural land while the remaining 77 percent is owned by males.
The statistics further indicate that government acquired more than 3 million hectares under the national resettlement programme while 3.4 million were acquired through the Affirmative Action Loan Scheme under the Agricultural Bank of Namibia from 1992 to 2018. Private commercial banks funded 2.8 million hectares during the same period.