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Erongo Region

This Region is named after the Erongo Mountain, a well-known landmark in Namibia that overlooks the semi-arid plans to its West. Erongo comprises the Swakopmund magisterial district up to the Ugab River and includes the enclave of Walvis Bay, former Damaraland south of the Ugab River, and the Omaruru and Karibib magisterial districts. Tarred roads connect all the main centres within this Region, excepting in the southern part of the former Damaraland.

The regional economy has limited capacity for extensive growth because of the small number of economic sectors, the cyclical dependence on natural occurrences, the lack of other income generating sources, and the small formal sector workforce. The current lack of a major water source for industry within the area limits the capacity for development. The fishing industry accounts for about a third of the economically active population in the region. The region has, however, tremendous tourism potential with spectacular landscapes, unique biological and cultural diversity and a range of protected areas that are available to visitors.

Planning Frameworks

Various development plans exist for the Erongo Region. The Erongo Region Development Plan (RDP) Year 2000, compiled by Urban Dynamics Consultants in conjunction with the Erongo Regional Council, emphasized the need to widen the economic base of the region to increase the regional income and create work opportunities for the 70 000 people in the region.

Other development plans include the Walvis Bay Action Plan, the Swakopmund Long Term Development Plan, the Swakopmund River Bridge Policy Plan, and the Long Beach - Dolphin Beach Structure Plan. These plans are all designed to guide and shape decisions around planning and development in city, town and local councils.

Within the urban areas, defined zones are demarcated to accommodate existing and future land uses. The uses deemed appropriate for land use for the urban land in the Erongo region are:

• Nature Reserve
• Conservation
• Recreation
• Industrial
• Land for Development

The administration of land in communal area is vested in Regional Land Boards and Traditional Authorities. The Land Boards will be responsible for the survey and registration of all approved forms of land title in the area of their jurisdiction.

Land Reform

The Erongo Region has approximately 31 % of its area covered by nature parks and recreational areas, which are located mostly in the western area. Commercial farms cover another 34 % mainly in the east while communal farming areas cover another 33 %. Of the communal areas only 24 % (8 % of total) are demarcated farms. The remainder exists as open communal area. Urban areas cover the remaining percentage.

The local authorities in the region carry out urban land administration. Most of the land in the urban area is state land and it is owned by the Namibian Government, however the National Land Policy requires the establishment and proclamation of urban or urbanising areas as townships and municipalities where appropriate, to promote decentralisation and the close involvement of communities in their own administration.


Various mining operations occur within this Region at places such as Karibib and Arandis. Karibib also has a marble industry. Arandis supports mining industry and Swakopmund boasts manufacturing. Arandis is also an Export Processing Zone (EPZ). There is a Gold Mine near the town of Karibib known as the Navachab Gold Mine. Navachab Gold Mine is the second largest mine in the Erongo region following the Rossing Uranium Mine.

While mining does not employ that many people in the region, the largest mine is the Rossing Uranium Mine, at a small mining town called Arandis near Swakopmund. Salt is produced at the Panther Beacon Salt Pan, the Cape Cross Salt Pan north of Swakopmund, as well as the Walvis Bay Salt Pans and Ugab Salt Pan. Marble, granite, wollastonite, semi-precious stones, industrial rocks, and sand are also mined.

Mining, however, by and large is not faring too well, as world market conditions have changed the demand for uranium, and the lead, marble and stone quarrying plants have been out of operation for several years.

Fishing and mari/agriculture

The fishing industry is the largest single employer in the region, and Walvis Bay is the principle home of Namibia's fishing industry. Most of the fishing companies have a core of permanent employees, while the large processors make use of temporary employees during the short fishing season.

Apart from the extensive oyster production beds within the salt works at Walvis Bay and Swakopmund, aquaculture is not a large activity. Some experiments are being undertaken with abalone (perlemoen) and black mussels. The Henties Bay Marine and Coastal Resources Research Centre is a multidisciplinary research project of the University of Namibia. The main aim of the centre is to promote sustainable and responsible utilization of Namibia's coastal resources for the benefit of all Namibians. This will include promoting the mariculture of algae in the region. For more information on the centre, please visit:

The Topnaar Community of the region

Agriculture potential is very limited because of the extreme aridity of the region, especially in its western parts. In the west, the ephemeral rivers are virtually the only areas where pastoralism and small-scale farming can be practised. The region relies on run-off of water from the distant interior of Namibia. The Swakop River, for example, supports only four market gardeners who supply retailers in Swakopmund. Subsistence activities, such as the recovery of !nara seeds and goat herding, support such people as the Topnaars (

Conservation and Tourism

The Erongo region is a popular destination for tourists interested in landscapes, nature, wilfdlife, culture and rock art. Much of the Namib-Naukluft Park falls in the Erongo Region that includes the main desert biomes of red dunes, gravel plains and inselbergs (isolated hills). The Gobabeb Research Station ( has done much work to unlock the secrets of the Namib Desert. Innovative conservation and tourism arrangements involve the Topnaars who live in the Namib-Naukluft Park. For more information on the Topnaars, please visit

The Cape Cross Seal Reserve is situated 120 km north of Swakopmund and within the National West Coast Tourist Recreation Area. Cape Cross is of interest to historians and biologists alike. Portuguese explorers planted a padrao at Cape Cross in 1486 and there is a seal population that is estimated to be between 80 000 and 100 000 animals. Black-backed jackal are often seen running between the seals and brown hyena tracks can be observed but the animals themselves are shy and nocturnal.

Walvis Bay has a huge natural lagoon with an overwhelming abundance of seabirds. 120.000 bird were counted lately in the lagoon, innumerable flamingoes and pelicans among them. Every year they are joined by 200 000 migratory birds. A very worthwhile experience if you have a 4x4 is the adventurous 48 km drive to Sandwich Harbour, a freshwater lagoon which is surrounded by dunes, a favourite amongst anglers and ornithologists.

The Erongo Region is experiencing a rapid growth in communal area conservancy formation. In developing conservancies, communities will be given more rights and responsibilities to manage the natural resources with which they co-exist. They will also be able to develop and benefit from tourism opportunities. Community based tourism enterprises, such as Brandberg Mountain Guides, Daureb Crafts, Spitzkoppe Restcamp, and Ugab Wilderness Camp already exist. For more information on these project visit the Erongo page of the Namibian Community-Based Tourism Association (NACOBTA) website .

For more information on the Erongo Region contact the regional economic planner Ms Christella Guriras , Mittel Street, Acacia Building, Swakopmund Private Bag 5019 or