The Republic of Namibia, once known as South West Africa, and occupied, first by the Germans, and later by the apartheid South African government, gained independence in 1990. It is politically stable, and has not had any recent political violence, aside from the Caprivi Strip in the north, in years.
Namibia is a very sparsely populated country – in fact, with less than 2 million residents, it’s the most the second most sparsely populated country in the world, and large scale agriculture is virtually non existent. For that reason, most produce is imported, either from neighboring South Africa, or from further afield, so the cost of living can be quite high.
That being said, the two main industries in Namibia, tourism and diamond mining, are thriving, and most immigrants arrive due to job opportunities in one of those areas.
Immigrants should have no problems communicating, as the official language of the country is English, although there are still large numbers of German, Afrikaans, and African languages, with around 60% of the Caucasian population being native Afrikaans speakers. Of the native language speakers, around half speak Oshiwambo.
As far as modern amenities, such as telephone lines and internet, Namibia is one of the best in Africa, so you should not have any problems there. However, the country had been importing a large amount of its electricity from South Africa, but that arrangement has been terminated, and black outs or load shedding are fairly common.
Accessing funds is also not a problem in the cities, as most major credit cards are accepted in stores, as well as at bank machines.
Long term visas are available to UK and US passport holders via the Namibian High Commission in London, and it’s important to note that you need to have a passport that will be valid for at least 6 months from date of entry (longer if your stay will be longer) and that you require one full page for Namibian authorities to use. Officials can be quite sticky about entries, so make sure that the dates etc that are filled in are correct, or you may find yourself on the wrong side of the law!
Detailed information regarding immigration can be found on the Namibian government’s home affairs website.
Like most of sub Saharan Africa, and the rest of the world in fact, the property market is experiencing a downturn, meaning housing is cheaper to buy, but more expensive to rent.
All in all, Namibia is a quiet, peaceful and progressive African state, offering secure living, albeit in a country that is more wide open space than anything else! Business potential is great, purely because there is so little there, but then, with a total market of less than 2 million potential customers, you need to choose your venture carefully! Employment opportunities for professionals within the mining and tourism sectors abound, and immigration is neither a complex nor dangerous proposition.
One word of caution however – unless you really like wide open spaces, and solitude, plan your move to the capital city – Windhoek! Miles and miles of sand dunes and semi desert (or full desert) aren’t for everyone!