Namibia’s start-up ecosystem shows great promise

A story of challenges and budding potential
The country ranks among the top 10 of the best start-up ecosystems in Africa.
Jemimah Ndebele
Namibia has made significant strides in the entrepreneurial and start-up sectors, ranking ninth on the list of the best start-up ecosystems in Africa by Business Insider Africa. This development comes despite the country being a relatively new contributor to the global start-up landscape compared to its African counterparts.

Namibia was recently recognised as the most promising start-up ecosystem by StartupBlink.

This recognition stemmed from Namibia's notable growth, as indicated in the Global Startup Ecosystem Index 2023 report, where Namibia jumped three spots to secure its position within the top 90 globally.

Incubation support

Despite such significant strides, the industry continues to face challenges due to its competitive and evolving landscape.

But there is also increasing support for start-ups in the form of start-up hubs and investors, which provides much-needed cushioning.

“Namibian start-ups currently encounter difficulties accessing the formal market, hindering the successful establishment of their businesses. Overcoming this hurdle is vital, as success in the local market can serve as a launchpad for expansion into the broader African market,” said Jesaya Hano-Oshike, director of the incubation and innovation centre of the Startup Namibia project, Basecamp.

With a vision to pioneer the transformation of Namibian start-ups into the future, Basecamp offers start-up incubation and acceleration, entrepreneurship training, cultivating start-up communities and pre-seed investment.

Hano-Oshike went on to add that “Namibia requires a comprehensive policy framework from the government that actively supports and nurtures start-ups.”

Notably, the ministry of industrialisation and trade is actively engaged in crafting a policy to bolster start-up initiatives. If properly formulated, this policy will provide a robust platform for the Namibian start-up ecosystem to thrive and contribute significantly to the country's economic landscape.

International spotlight

The local tech start-up ecosystem has seen so much growth that it has garnered attention from start-up hubs globally, including Nigeria’s tech sage turned minister Bosun Tijani’s Co-Creation Hub (CcHUB).

The technology-focused centre, which officially opened its Namibian offices last year, serves as a vibrant platform for tech-oriented start-ups, organisations and individuals to share ideas, collaborate and accelerate the creation and growth of innovative technology solutions for Africa.

Speaking on its evaluation of the Namibian tech and start-up landscapes, CcHUB Namibia’s community manager Efraim Vilho said: “To embrace the global technology revolution and elevate its position on the world stage, Namibia must take decisive steps forward. First and foremost, investing in education and skills development is essential to equip its citizens with the necessary expertise for the tech sector. Encouraging entrepreneurship and innovation, particularly in the technology realm, through funding and mentorship initiatives is crucial.”

Vilho added that complex regulatory frameworks and regulations could pose obstacles for start-ups in some of the new industrial revolution technologies, especially in areas of fintech and e-commerce. “Namibia’s relatively small population may limit the scalability of start-ups targeting local markets, necessitating a focus on regional or global expansion strategies,” he said.

With its breathtaking landscapes and abundant natural resources, the country offers fertile ground for innovation.