On Friday Namibia will become the first African country to hold an electronic ballot. Approximately 1.2 million Namibians are eligible to cast their ballots at nearly 4,000 electronic voting stations across the country.
It will be the first time the country will all vote in one day, and promises to improve accuracy, speed up counting, and cut down on spoiled ballots - although the opposition is not convinced, and tried to stop it is a case that was thrown out by the Namibia High Court on Wednesday.
If the e-vote suggests anything, it is that Namibia is no strange to firsts. That is just one of many unique attributes of this vast desert nation. Here are 10 more:
1. Namibia was the first country in the world to incorporate “Protection of the Environment” into its national constitution. This law protects around 15% of Namibia’s land area from commercial or agricultural development, and designates these areas as National Parks.
2. Namibia is the first African nation and one of only few jurisdictions in the world, which successfully conducted a “National Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing Risk and Threat Assessment”. This assessment enabled Namibia to develop laws, policies and cause resource allocations to address and mitigate high risk money laundering and terrorism financing areas.
3. Namibia is the only African country with a daily German newspaper. The Allgemeine Zeitung (“General Newspaper”) founded in 1916, is the oldest daily newspaper in Namibia and the only daily newspaper in the German language in Africa.
4. Namibia was the first country to use dehorning to protect rhinos from poaching. Between 1989 and the early 1990s, dehorning coupled with rapid improvements in security and funding for anti-poaching was perceived by stakeholders to have contributed significantly to reducing poaching losses. In Namibia, not a single dehorned rhino was poached.
5. Namibia was the first African country to host Miss Universe – when it hosted the 1995 Miss Universe Pageant. Over 80 countries and territories participated in MU Namibia’95. The event was televised in over 60 nations in the world.
6. Namibia is the most arid country in sub-Sahara Africa, receiving on average less than 400mm of rain a year. Namibia also has no rivers that run year-round; they are ephemeral rivers that only run in the rainy season.
7. Home to the largest canyon in Africa - the Fish River Canyon. This canyon, formed approximately 500 million years ago, is situated along the lower reaches of the Fish River, and with a depth of up to 550 metres, it is the second largest canyon in the world.
8. The only country named after a desert. “Namibia” comes “Namib” which is of Nama origin and means “vast place”. The Namib desert is one of the oldest and largest in the world, covering large swathes of Namibia and parts of Angola and South Africa.
9. Namibia possesses some of the most stunning landscapes in Africa. This includes the “Sossusvlei”, a large salt and clay pan set amid red sand dunes that tower up to 200m above the valley floor, the rounded granite 700m peaks of the “Spitzkoppe towers” and it’s “Skeleton coast” - a treacherous coastline full of rocks and sandy coastal shallows which was a graveyard for ships and crew - hence the name.
10. Namibia has one of the most productive fishing grounds in the world, due primarily to the presence of the Benguela current. Up-welling caused by the current brings nutrient rich waters up from the depths that stimulate the growth of microscopic marine organisms. These in turn support rich populations of fish, which form the basis of the marine fisheries sector.