What is the bioeconomy?
The bioeconomy comprises those parts of the economy that use renewable biological resources from land and sea – such as crops, forests, fish, animals, and micro-organisms – to produce food, materials and energy.
The region’s bioeconomy already plays an important role, namely through sectors such as agriculture, fisheries, and forestry. Agriculture alone sustains 70% of region’s population in terms of employment and livelihood. However, when it comes to innovation, sustainability, and value addition, these same sectors are typically found lacking. For example, while agriculture employs over 23% of the workforce in Namibia, it only contributes 7% towards the gross domestic product.
Energy - The core principle of the bioeconomy is to move away from the fossil-fuel economy. As such, renewable energies become the focal point. Namibia is largely reliant on energy imports, with 70% of the country’s power and 100% of the country’s liquid fuels being imported. However, Namibia boasts significant solar, wind, and biomass resources available to it, which are largely underutilized.
Agriculture – Agricultural potential in Namibia is also largely underrealized, often focusing on traditional and largely inefficient production systems. Investment into smart agriculture is long overdue, with an emphasis on niche, high-value products using modern production techniques and adding more value locally. Despite the small domestic market, there are ample opportunities for export-orientated growth.
Consumer goods – The export of primary products constitutes the bulk of Namibia’s export portfolio. In general, limited value is captured locally. However, there is a reality where Namibia can become an exporter of high-value consumer goods. Not only is the country rich in natural resources, but it is also logistically well integrated. The current lack of market access and investment into manufacturing seem like a stumbling block, but therein lies the opportunity.