NCPI August 2022

Namibia’s annual inflation rate ticked up to 7.3% y/y in August, following the 6.8% y/y increase in prices recorded in July. August’s annual CPI rate was the quickest increase since February 2017. On a month-on-month basis, prices in the overall NCPI basket rose 0.3% m/m. On an annual basis, overall prices in six of the twelve basket categories rose at a quicker rate in August than in July, three categories recorded slower rates of inflation and three categories recorded prices consistent with the prior month. Prices of goods increased by 10.2% y/y, while prices for services increased by 3.3% y/y in August.

Transport continues to be the largest contributor to the annual inflation rate, accounting for 3.3 percentage points of the total 7.3% y/y inflation rate in August. Prices in the transport category rose 0.2% m/m and 23.2% y/y, the quickest year-on-year increase in our database stretching back to 2003. The three subcategories in the transport basket items all recorded increases on a month-on-month and year-on-year basis. The operation of personal transport equipment subcategory, which recorded price increases of 0.2% m/m and 35.4% y/y, continues to fuel most of the inflation in this basket item, with global oil prices remaining elevated. The Ministry of Mines and Energy’s announcement at the beginning of September to cut petrol prices by 120 cents per litre and diesel prices by 65 cents per litre should ease inflation of the transport category somewhat going forward, although fuel prices remain considerably higher than they were last year. The purchase of vehicles subcategory recorded inflation of 0.5% m/m and 5.5% y/y. Prices of public transportation services rose were steady month-on-month but rose 6.4% y/y.

Food & non-alcoholic beverages, the second largest basket item by weighting, was the second largest contributor to the annual inflation rate in August, contributing 1.6 percentage points. Prices in this basket item rose by 0.8% m/m and 8.8% y/y, the quickest year-on-year increase since February 2017. As has been the case in the past seven months, all thirteen sub-categories recorded price increases on an annual basis. The biggest increases were observed in the prices of oils and fats which rose by 26.1% y/y, followed by fruit which recorded prices increases of 20.0% y/y.

Alcohol & tobacco inflation slowed from 5.4% y/y in July to 5.2% y/y August. On a monthly basis, prices in the basket item decreased by 0.3% m/m. The prices of alcoholic beverages decreased by 0.2% m/m but rose by 5.4% y/y, while tobacco prices fell by 0.9% m/m but rose by 4.5% y/y.

The annual inflation rate in Namibia continues to rise and as mentioned earlier, August’s rate was the quickest since February 2017. While the rate is high, it is by no means extraordinary for Namibia, as it has reached (and breached) the 7.0% level a couple of times over the past two decades. Unsurprisingly, transport and food prices remain the main drivers of the Namibian inflation rate, contributing 68% to the country’s annual rate in August. The fuel price cuts announced at the beginning of the month should ease inflation pressure somewhat, but risks remain to the upside. South Africa’s inflation rate of 7.8% y/y in July continues to trend above the SARB’s 3-6% target band and expectation are that its MPC will hike rates by between 50-75bps in September. The BoN will respond in kind to any decision taken by the SARB. IJG’s inflation model currently forecasts the annual inflation rate to remain elevated for the remainder of 2022, and for it to end the year at around 7.1%.

Building Plans – August 2022

The City of Windhoek approved a total of 232 building plans in August, representing a 21.6% m/m decrease from the 296 building plans approved in July. In value terms, the approvals were valued at N$226.3 million, a 19.8% decline from the N$282.0 million approved in July. So far in 2022 there have been 1,667 approvals, worth N$1.26 billion. This year-to-date figure is 4.8% higher in number terms and 1.2% higher in value terms than at the same time last year. On a twelve-month cumulative basis, the number of approvals has risen by 0.4% y/y to 2,527 but the value of these approvals has declined by 2.3% y/y to N$1.98 billion. The number of completions for August came in at 79, valued at N$79.0 million.

Additions to properties made up the largest portion of approvals in both number and value terms. 169 additions to properties were approved valued at N$147.8 million, decreasing by 5.6% m/m in number terms but increasing 37.9% m/m in value terms, the highest value of approvals in a single month since January 2018. It should however be noted that N$100 million worth of additions to the Lady Pohamba Hospital in Kleine Kuppe alone made up 67.7% of this total. Year-to-date 1,093 additions to properties have been approved with a value of N$642.5 million, an 11.2% y/y increase in number terms and a 37.9% y/y increase in value terms. 37 Additions worth N$19.6 million were completed in August.

New residential units were the second largest contributor to the number and value of building plans approved with 55 approvals registered in August compared to 112 in July. In value terms N$40.9 million worth of residential units were approved in August, an 75.8% m/m decrease from the high base in July, and a 51.4% y/y decline. On a 12-month cumulative basis, the number of residential units approved fell by 12.6% y/y to 801. 25 New residential units worth N$19.0 million were completed during August, a 26.7% m/m decrease in value terms.

8 New commercial and industrial units valued at N$37.7 million were approved in August. This compares to 5 units valued at N$20.4 million in August 2021 and is the highest number of approvals since February 2020. Year-to-date there have been 30 commercial and industrial building approvals valued at N$101.1 million, translating to a 20.0% y/y increase in number, and a 15.1% y/y increase in value terms compared to the same period last year. On a rolling 12-month perspective, the number of commercial and industrial approvals increased to 42 units worth N$184.6 million, compared to the 34 approved units worth N$143.0 million over the corresponding period a year ago. One commercial and industrial unit worth N$2.2 million was completed in August.

As shown in the figure above, the cumulative value of building plans approved has been ticking up slightly in nominal terms in recent months but continues to trend down in inflation-adjusted terms The 12-month cumulative value of plans completed however continues trend down in both nominal and real terms, as shown in the graph below.

On a 12-month cumulative basis, 2,527 building plans to the value of N$1.98 billion were approved which represents a 0.4% y/y increase in number terms but a 2.3 y/y decrease in value terms. Additions to properties continue to make up most of the cumulative approvals at 66.6% in number terms. The number of commercial and industrial approvals have increased by 23.5% y/y on a 12-month cumulative basis, despite remaining in a single-digit territory since March 2020, indicating that it is from a very low base. As mentioned earlier, the 8 commercial building plan approvals in August was the highest since February 2020. While the number of approvals of a single month cannot be used to infer a change in trend, the relatively high number of commercial approvals in August is still encouraging as it indicates that some corporates are expanding their operations. Completed building plans increased by 29.4% y/y in value terms to N$984.0 million on a 12-month cumulative basis, the first increase since June 2021.

New Vehicle Sales – August 2022

1,051 new vehicles were sold in August, representing a 55.2% m/m increase from the 677 sold in July and a 37.9% y/y increase from the 762 new vehicles sold in August 2021. Year-to-date 6,915 new vehicles have been sold, of which 3,574 were passenger vehicles, 2,907 light commercial vehicles, and 434 medium and heavy commercial vehicles. In comparison, 6,454 new vehicles were sold by August 2021. 2022’s new vehicle sales are very much in line with 2019’s, as the figure below shows. On a 12-month cumulative basis, a total of 9,889 new vehicles were sold as at August 2022, representing a 6.4% y/y increase from the 9,293 new vehicles sold over the comparable period a year ago.

519 new passenger vehicles were sold during August, an increase of 35.9% m/m from the 382 sold in July, and a 53.6% y/y increase from the 338 new vehicles sold in August 2021. Volkswagen and Toyota were the biggest contributors to the increase in monthly new passenger vehicles in August. Year-to-date, new passenger vehicle sales rose to 3,574, an increase of 19.0% from the 3,003 sold during the same period last year. On a 12-month cumulative basis, new passenger vehicle sales rose by 18.8% y/y to 5,055, the highest level since December 2018, some 44 months ago.

532 new commercial vehicles were sold in August, representing an increase of 80.3% m/m and a 25.5% y/y. While all three sub-categories recorded better sales than last month, the month-on-month increase was largely driven by an increase in light commercial vehicle sales, following a recovery in sales by Toyota. Light commercial vehicle sales rose by 31.4% y/y to 465, medium commercial vehicle sales climbed by 12.5% y/y to 18 while heavy commercial vehicles fell by 9.3% y/y to 49. On a twelve-month cumulative basis, light commercial vehicle sales decreased by 4.6% y/y to 4,137, medium commercial vehicles fell by 2.7% y/y to 179, while heavy commercial vehicles rose by 0.2% y/y to 518.

Toyota retained its lead in the new passenger vehicle sale segment, claiming 29.6% of the sales on a year-to-date basis, followed by Volkswagen with a 23.3% share, slightly higher from the previous month. The two top brands maintained their large gap over the rest of the market with Kia and Suzuki following with 9.2% and 8.2% of the market, respectively, leaving the remaining 29.7% of the market to other brands.

On a year-to-date basis, Toyota also maintained its dominance in the light commercial vehicle space with a 45.9% market share, followed by Nissan with 13.5%. Hino continues to lead the medium commercial vehicle segment with 28.6% of year-to-date sales, followed by Mercedes-Benz with 21.9% market share. In the heavy and extra-heavy commercial vehicle market, Scania retained its position as the leader with 30.7% market share.

The Bottom Line

New vehicle sales recovered materially this month, breaching the 1,000 level for the first time since March. As previously mentioned, the growth was largely driven by a rebound in sales from Toyota in particularly the passenger- and light commercial categories, due to the recommencement of production at the KwaZulu Natal production plant, although Volkswagen also recorded a robust increase in passenger vehicle sales. On a 12-month cumulative basis, new passenger vehicle sales breached the 5,000 mark for the first time since May 2019 and is edging towards 2018 levels. New commercial vehicles sales however continue to hover around the 4,800 level on a 12-month cumulative basis, where it has been trending for the past year.