Namibia has a well-developed and efficient infrastructures for electricity and water supply. A total of 126 bulk national water supply schemes supply water for domestic, stock watering, mining, irrigation and industrial purposes. A desalination plant to be constructed in Swakopmund is currently in the planning stages. Nam-Power is responsible for the country's electricity network, the main sources of power being the thermal, coal-fired Van Eck Power Station (120 MW) on the outskirts of Windhoek, the hydroelectric plant at Ruacana Falls (240 MW), the diesel-driven Paratus Power Station at Walvis Bay (24 MW) and one interconnecting line from Eskom, South Africa (200 MW).
The country has a well-established road network, of which some 5 450 km is tarred and 37 000 km consists of gravel and earth roads, providing access to the majority of towns, parks, nature reserves and tourist attractions in the country. Two major development projects, the Trans-Caprivi Highway and the TransKalahari Highway, provide access to Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa and link Namibia with other Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries for trade, travel and communication.
Ports and harbours
Namibia's two harbours, Walvis Bay and Lüderitz, are administered by the Namibian Ports Authority (NamPOrt), a state-owned organisation established in 1994.
Lüderitz, although traditionally a fishing port, with a new cargo and container quay completed in 2000. The port is strategically located to cater for southern Namibia and the northern Cape.
Walvis Bay, the only deep-sea harbour, is a safe and economical option for the country's export and import trade, especially to southern, west and central Africa and Europe. The port has eight berths of -10 m chart-datum depth, a total length of 1.4 km, separate tanker berth facilities and an average of 150 ship movements per month.
Air Namibia, the national carrier, maintains international direct flights to Frankfurt and other destinations; regional flights to Luanda, Victoria Falls, Maun, Johannesburg and Cape Town; and domestic flights to local destinations such as Swakopmund, Walvis Bay, Mokuti Lodge, Katima Mulilo, Lüderitz, Rosh Pinah, Oranjemund and Ondangwa. Air Namibia also operates scheduled regional and international freight services to and from Namibia.
Foreign airlines providing a service to Windhoek are South African Airways, British Airways/Comair, TAAG and LTU.
During 2002 COMAV introduced the B1900 and F406, a 19-seater and 10-seater respectively, which are used in alliance with Air Namibia for domestic and selected regional routes. There are a number of local charter companies which conduct fly-in safaris in light aircraft to various tourist destinations. (See Fly-In Section for further details).
Airports and airstrips
Hosea Kutako International Airport, previously Windhoek International Airport, caters for international as well as regional air traffic, passengers as well as freight. Direct destinations abroad include Johannesburg, London and Frankfurt. Air Namibia is the national carrier, and other international airlines with flights to and from Namibia are South African Airways, British Airways/Comair, TAAG and LTU.
Eros Airport, situated within the municipal boundaries of Windhoek, handles domestic flights. All major Namibian tourist destinations have airports, landing strips and/ or heliports to accommodate holidaymakers travelling by air. The Namibia Airports Company (NAC) manages eight airports and aerodromes in Namibia on a commercial basis. These include Katima Mulilo, Rundu, Ondangwa, Eros, Hosea Kutako, Walvis Bay, Lüderitz and Keetmanshoop.
Although Namibia has over 300 known airfields, at locations including Sesriem, Hardap, Ai-Ais, Okaukuejo, Halali, Namutoni, Mile 72, Mile 108, Terrace Bay, Palmwag, Khorixas, Sesfontein and Popa Falls, only 16 are licensed. Travellers are cautioned not to land at unlicensed airfields, as the conditions are not always known. Aircraft fuel is usually not available at the landing strips, and landings must be arranged in advance.
The latest airstrip is at Sossusvlei Lodge, and was developed by the Namib Etosha Tourism Group in collaboration with Bush Pilots and Desert Air. It is maintained on an ongoing basis, is fully fenced, so there is no danger of animals on the runway, and it has toilet and other facilities next to the parking area.
Namibia's railway network is managed by TransNamib Holdings Ltd and comprises 2 382 km of 1.067 m narrow gauge railway lines. The main line runs from the South African border via Keetmanshoop to Windhoek, Okahandja, Swakopmund and Walvis Bay. A northern section links up with Omaruru, Otjiwarongo, Otavi, Tsumeb and Grootfontein. Currently under construction is the extension from Tsumeb to Oshikango on the Angolan border.
Walvis Bay Corridor
The Walvis Bay corridor is the name for a newly constructed network of transport links that provides access to landlocked Southern Africa for destinations west of the continent by the shortest possible route. Completed in 1998 and using the port of Walvis Bay as the trade gateway, its main arteries are the TransCaprivi and TransKalahari highways. The Walvis Bay to Grootfontein railway line also forms part of the corridor.
Following the commercialisation of post and telecommunications in 1992, two separate entities, Telecom Namibia and NamPost, were established. The two sister companies have since created and maintained what is regarded as one of the best infrastructures and service delivery systems in Africa.
Telecom Namibia, a limited public commercialised corporation, has replaced a largely outdated and inadequate telecommunications infrastructure with field-proven state-of-the-art technology, an exceptional network design, around-the-clock management and field support. Digital fibre systems and switches now criss-cross the huge but sparsely populated country. The capacity for multi-media traffic on the fibre routes is unlimited and is idling for commercial exploitation. The Harvard Africa Competitiveness Report 2000 ranked the quality levels of Namibian telecommunication services as amongst the best in Africa.
With 6.2 telephone lines per 100 inhabitants by the end of 1999, Namibia has a high teledensity in comparison with regional and African averages. The 97 396 port capacity in 1995 expanded to 168 340 ports in 1999. Direct exchange lines have increased from 71 283 in 1995 to 108 193 in 1999, representing an average annual growth rate of 12.95%.
Within SADC, Namibia has direct fibre-optic cable links to Botswana and South Africa, with additional satellite links to South Africa for voice and data, and to Angola for voice. The rest of the world can be reached from Namibia through direct-dialling facilities to 221 countries switched via the SA international exchange. Calls to only seven countries are still connected via international operators, namely Afghanistan, Catham Island, Midway Island, Mongolia, Pitcairn Island, Tristan da Cunha and Wake Island.
Customers nowadays enjoy benefits of value-added services (VAS), including ISDN, which enables simultaneous transmission of data, voice, image and video communication over existing copper telephone lines; Toll Free Services, Call Forwarding, Conference or Three Party Calls, etc. Telemail Service or Voicemail has also been introduced as a free addition to most telephones countrywide. Services soon to be introduced include Virtual Telephony, Pre-Paid Telephony, Fax-Mail, Universal Information Delivery Service, Wake-Up and Reminder Calls.
Telecom Namibia has enabled Namibians to enjoy full Internet connectivity through various independent Internet Service Providers. The company has decentralised its structures in its quest for improved customer relations. TeleShops or TeleCentres in smaller settlements serve as one-stop centres where customers can apply for telephones, settle accounts, inquire into any aspect of the service and buy TeleCards or Customer Premises Equipment. All towns and settlements are provided with card and coin phones in key areas.
Namibia's cellular operator, Mobile Telecommunications Ltd (MTC), joined the world's fast-growing cellular industry in 1995. MTC became operational when Telia Overseas AB, Swedfund International AB and Namibia Post and Telecommunications Holdings Ltd, entered into a joint venture, having realised the pressing need for cellular services in Namibia.
Since then MTC has grown rapidly, expanding its coverage and services in Namibia to more than 45 towns and 100 000 customers. MTC has entered into roaming agreements with 55 countries and 115 different mobile telecommunication networks. This means that visitors from these countries are able to use their phones here in Namibia. In addition, MTC's contract subscribers can roam the world's major business and holiday destinations.
Other than continuously expanding its network and roaming possibilities, MTC also strives towards improving and expanding its value-added services to customers. Such services include voicemail, fax and short message services. These services enable customers to use their cellphones for considerably more than voice communication.
During the course of 2001, the company underwent strenuous business process re-engineering to streamline all processes within MTC. In addition to this, the company purchased a world-class Enterprise Resource Management Programme system. This will enable MTC to provide service of the best quality to Namibians, and to visitors from other countries.
Namibia has one of the most modern postal infrastructures in Africa, putting it on par with the rest of the world as regards communications. Airmail to and from Europe, for example, takes from four days to two weeks, and the postcard stamps from Namibia to other countries vary in price from N$3.10 – N$5.00. Namibia Post Ltd (affiliated to the Universal Post Union) has 78 post offices, two satellite post offices, 11 postal agencies, 37 mobile postal units and almost 80 000 registered mail box holders..
While Namibia is a secular state in terms of the Constitution, freedom of religion was adopted through Namibia's Bill of Fundamental Rights. About 90% of the population are Christian. There are two Lutheran denominations, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Republic of Namibia and the German-speaking Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia (DELK). Other major denominations represented are Roman Catholic and Anglican, as well as a number of reformed groupings and independent African churches.
Many traditional African convictions have permeated the Christian denominations. An example of this religious coexistence is the celebration by the Herero of Ancestors' Memorial Day in Okahandja, and similar festivals in Gobabis and Omaruru. In 1995 Namibia's first mosque opened in Windhoek.
The Constitution of Namibia makes provision for freedom of speech and expression, including freedom of the press and other media. In spite of its small population, the country has a varied and lively press, with seven commercial newspapers. Four of these are dailies - The Namibian (English), Allgemeine Zeitung (German) and Republikein (Afrikaans); New Era (English, issued by Government), and The Namib Times; once a week - The Economist; and a weekend tabloid, the Windhoek Observer.
The Namibian Broadcasting Corpo-ration (NBC) has eight radio services and one television channel. It broadcasts in six languages from Windhoek and in three indigenous languages from transmitters in the north and north east. One privately owned television channel and five privately owned radio stations operate from Windhoek. Private commercial enterprises account for several additional television channels, including international channels via satellite such as the BBC, CNN and Deukom, South Africa's M-Net, TV 1 and Supersport, as well as two radio stations.