First impressions of Namibia

We have been in Namibia only one day and already I see huge differences between the two countries in terms of entrepreneurship and self-motivation.

The view of Windhoek from my hotel shows it to be a much more built up and active city than sleepy Gaborone.

Going back to the evidence I presented in my earlier blog post for claiming a lack of entrepreneurship and self-motivation in Botswana, I have found the opposite in Namibia. As we walked around Windhoek and then ventured north towards where we will be doing a safari, I saw many more local businesses and restaurants. Certainly there were still chains, however there seemed to be a much more vibrant local economy – both in the city and in the suburbs. Additionally, our taxi drive (who admittedly was South African) had started multiple businesses in Namibia and was eager to see his businesses grow.

A Namibian company near our hotel promotes its Namibian origins.

In the service industry, everyone was far more attentive, pleasant, and efficient in Namibia than what we had experienced in Botswana. Unlike in Botswana, many of the managers appeared to be Namibian (rather than expats), which perhaps was a part of this – management and training could be done in a culturally appropriate way and be done by an “insider” as opposed to management by expats in Botswana. The staff at the hotel in Windhoek and at Etosha both demonstrated these

Advertisements for local shops on the road to Etosha National Park show commercial activity outside of the capital.

qualities, so it seems not to be a “rural vs urban” split as some of my classmates had hypothesized – though I do want to be careful to not draw generalizations, especially given that both settings were very tourist-oriented.

We have not yet had conversations with Namibian business leaders and have learned much less about their history than the history of Botswana. Perhaps as we have those conversations after returning from the Safari I will be able to see if my initial impressions remain and understand a bit more about why the differences do exist.

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