Windhoek, Namibia,

Namibian Consumers Remain Under Financial Pressure, Despite Encouraging Economic Signs

TransUnion study finds 45% of Namibians report they’ll be unable to pay their current bills and loans in full.

A new TransUnion survey, presented at the inaugural Financial Services Summit in Namibia this week, has revealed a challenging financial outlook for Namibian consumers. While two in 10 (20%) said their income increased in the last three months, close to four in 10 (36%) reported a decrease, and 45% anticipate being unable to pay their current bills and loans in full.

According to TransUnion’s Q3 Consumer Pulse Study, one of the significant factors contributing to the decrease in household income was job loss, with 27% of consumers reporting that someone in their household lost their job over the past month. Other factors impacting decreased income included wage or salary reductions (16%) and owning a small business that closed, or saw orders dry up.

“Many consumers have been forced to adjust their household budgets in response to these challenges, with 56% cutting back on discretionary spending – such as dining out, travel and entertainment – over the past three months,” said Lara Burger, country manager at TransUnion Namibia.

According to Namibia’s Central Bureau of Statistics, the country’s inflation rate rose to 4.7% in August, going up from a near one and a half year low of 4.5% in July 2023. This is expected to increase some consumer costs, particularly around food prices. GDP grew 5.8% in the first quarter of 2023 over the previous quarter, recovering sharply from a 1.8% fall in the previous period, and pointing to its strongest growth since the first quarter of 2013.

Looking ahead, consumers are bracing for further financial strain. A significant 38% of consumers in TransUnion’s survey expected to increase spending on bills and loans over the next three months, while 33% expected to decrease their in-store and online retail shopping (e.g., clothing, electronics and durable goods). In addition, 48% planned to make cuts to their discretionary spending in the next three months, and 28% expected a decrease in large purchases such as appliances and cars.

The survey also highlighted a low percentage who think they have access to credit and potentially a lack of consumer confidence in the credit market. Nearly all consumers (93%) believed access to credit and lending products is important to achieve their financial goals. However, just over a third (34%) felt they had sufficient access to credit, and 35% intended to apply for new credit or refinance within the next year.

Identity risks and usage

Fraud is on the rise. Seven in 10 respondents (70%) reported being targeted by online, email, phone call or text messaging fraud attempts in the past three months. Among those who said they were targeted, the most reported schemes were money or gift card scams (41%), vishing (fraudulent phone calls designed to trick you into revealing personal data, 35%), and phishing (fraudulent emails, websites, social posts and QR codes meant to steal data, 34%).

Concerns about sharing personal information are high, with 89% of consumers expressing worry. The primary concern cited was the fear of identity theft (80%), followed by invasion of privacy (76%). These findings underscore the need for stringent security measures and consumer education about data protection to maintain trust.

“Overall, it's clear that consumers are increasingly aware of the risks associated with fraud. With rampant scams, consumers are cautious about sharing personal information, fearing privacy invasion and identity theft. This indicates a significant need for stronger security measures and robust fraud prevention strategies,” said Burger.