Namibia records its first digital nomads

Martin Endjala

Namibia officially recorded its first digital nomads, five months after the official launch of the country’s Digital Nomad Visa (DNV) in October last year. The first two digital nomads’ visa applications were approved on 14 February 2023.

The programme was launched by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Immigration and Security and the Namibia Investment Promotion and Development Board (NIPDB), with the aim of enhancing economic activity in the country.

The program aims to capitalise on the growing global remote workforce by offering location-independent foreign professionals the chance to live, work, and experience Namibia for up to six months.

These digital nomads are said to contribute towards the country’s economy by injecting foreign currency into the ecosystem, without usurping jobs meant for Namibians.

So far, early results indicate encouraging stats, with over 121 enquiries about the programme recorded. Of this number, a total 20 applications were received, out of which nine were approved, with five rejections.

The reasons for rejection include applicants who did not meet the income requirements of USD 2000 per month and are thus unable to prove that they can effectively sustain themselves while in Namibia.

Other applications were rejected because they were submitted while the applicants were already in Namibia on a different legal status such as a Tourist Visa, or they arrived in the country before approval of their application.

The launch of the DNV earned Namibia international praise, from Cape Town to Germany and as far as Australia. Following the launch, Namibia appeared in over 1 100 social media posts and articles online, across the world.

The NIPDB Marketing, Branding and Communications Senior Manager Catherine Shipushu, said that interest in the DNV primarily originates from Germany, South Africa, and the United States of America, as the interested location independent workers search for qualities such as fresh air, different culture, and the best holiday destination.

Additionally, they have witnessed a surge in queries and applications for the DNV through their website, further demonstrating the growing global interest.

“This demonstrates Namibia’s potential to harness the digital nomad trend and create new opportunities for local businesses in the tourism and information and communication technologies support sectors”, she said.

Furthermore, as an effective marketing tool for Namibia, the Digital Nomads Visa program has also created visibility through digital nomads documenting and sharing their experiences on social media and other mass media platforms, showcasing the nation’s natural beauty, rich cultural heritage, and hospitality. This increased visibility has the potential to help attract more tourists, investors, and talent, further stimulating the nation’s economic growth and development.

Carolyn Boston, blogger at ‘Nomad Girl’ expressed her experience with the digital nomad saying that when living in Namibia as a digital nomad, you will be rewarded with breathtaking landscape views, making it an ideal place for nomads who want to work surrounded by nature.

Stretching across 300 000 square miles, Boston said Namibia has an incredibly diverse landscape consisting of mighty dunes, rolling hills, and magnificent coastal deserts. It’s home to a fascinating array of desert-adapted plants and animals and breathtaking natural wonders.

By design, Shipushu stated that the DNV complements, rather than competes with, the local workforce, ensuring digital nomads bring their own remote jobs or freelance projects to Namibia.

This approach she added, benefits the Namibian economy and its people while creating an environment for local entrepreneurs and professionals to expand their networks, learn from their international counterparts, and explore new avenues for collaboration.

With the global shift towards remote work over the past three years, 47 countries are estimated to have developed digital nomad visa programs, according to the Harvard School of Business, with Namibia emerging as one of only five African countries that offer a Digital Nomad Visa.

The other four countries are Seychelles, Cape Verde, Rwanda and Mauritius.

“The launch of Namibia’s Digital Nomad Visa program is a bold and strategic move that positions the country as a prime destination for remote workers from around the world. By embracing this global trend and offering a world-class visa program, Namibia stands to reap substantial economic, social, and cultural benefits”, lamented Shipushu.

In an effort to increase the number of approvals, the NIPDB will be rolling out marketing campaigns specifically

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