Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Windhoek — Namibia has scrapped a requirement for companies seeking mining exploration licences to be partly owned and managed by black Namibians, the country’s mining industry group said on Friday.

The policy was introduced in 2015 to increase the participation of historically disadvantaged black Namibians in some of the country’s most lucrative business projects, but critics said it threatened the diamond and uranium producer’s ability to attract investment.

The Namibian chamber of mines said on Friday the requirements had been set aside by mines and energy minister Tom Alweendo in a letter to the group. Neither the minister nor officials in his department could be reached for comment.

Hilifa Mbako, the chamber’s vice-president, said the decision “was the most important fundamental decision for future investment into Namibia”.

Mining contributed 12.2% to the country’s GDP in 2017. Under the scrapped policy, the management structure of a company applying for an exploration licence was required to have a minimum 20% representation of black Namibians.

At least 5% of the company also had to be owned by Namibians or by a company wholly owned by Namibians. Mbako said the requirements and uncertainties created by the planned New Equitable Economic Empowerment Framework, a regulation intended to force white-owned businesses to sell 25% stake to blacks, had hit investor confidence in Namibia.

Namibia gained its independence from South Africa in 1990 and the former German colony suffered from apartheid-style rules, with the white minority controlling most of the economy.