Financing Social Protection in Namibia

Namibia is an upper middle-income country with one of the most comprehensive social protection systems in Africa. It provides cash transfers and complementary social assistance to a range of vulnerable groups including children, the elderly and people with disabilities, at a cost equivalent to 4.5% of GDP in 2016/17. Public-sector workers are well covered by social insurance, although there are gaps in provision for the private sector. Social protection, in particular cash transfers, has proven highly effective at reducing poverty and inequality and mitigating the impact of high unemployment, although these remain persistent challenges. For Namibia to achieve its development objectives, social protection will need to play an even greater role in the future, but scaling up social protection in the current context of low economic growth and fiscal consolidation will be challenging. This paper charts the evolution of social protection provision and expenditure, locates social protection within the context of Namibia’s broader fiscal framework and proposes options for enhancing its impact without increasing public spending.