What Is the NAD (Namibian Dollar)?

The NAD (Namibian dollar) is the national currency of Namibia. It was introduced in Sept. 1993, replacing the South African rand (ZAR), which had been in use since 1920.

Although the rand is no longer the official currency of Namibia, it is still legal tender in the country and can be exchanged for NADs at a rate of one ZAR per NAD.

Key Takeaways

  • The NAD is the national currency of Namibia.
  • It was introduced in 1993, replacing the ZAR.
  • Although the Namibian economy has achieved modest growth in recent years, the NAD has depreciated against the U.S. dollar (USD).

Understanding the NAD

The NAD is administered by the nation's central bank, the Bank of Namibia. It has been in circulation since 1993, in both coin and paper formats.

The NAD's bank notes entered circulation in Sept. 1993, in denominations of 10, 20, 50, 100, and 200 dollars. All of these notes feature a portrait of Hendrik Witbooi, a revolutionary who fought for independence against German rule in the late 1900s. In May 2012, the 10 and 20-dollar notes were redesigned to depict Sam Nujoma, who was the first president of Namibia following its independence.

The NAD's first coins were issued in Dec. 1993, in denominations of 5, 10, and 50 cents (made of steel and nickel), as well as one, five, and 10 dollars (made of brass).

Real World Example of the NAD

A growing movement to replace the ZAR began in 1990. Because the NAD is connected to the ZAR and has an exchange rate of one to one, the ZAR remains legal tender in Namibia.

Initially, in 1990, the proposed replacement currency for the country was the "kalahar," a name that reflects the Kalahari Desert, which sprawls across eastern Namibia. Officials drew up several designs for the kalahar and speculated on a range of denominations, but little developed from this. The only replacement currency for the ZAR that ever took shape, and exists today, is the NAD. 

In recent years, the NAD has steadily depreciated against the USD. Whereas in 2011 one USD was equivalent to 7.26 NAD, that number rose to 14.71 in 2016. This figure has remained relatively stable since then, with the Oct. 2019 value rising slightly to about 15.00 NAD per USD.

Namibia's economy has grown at a modest pace in the past decade, achieving a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of just over 3%. Between 2008 and 2018, the country's per-capita gross domestic product (GDP), measured in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP), increased from 8,209 per person to 11,229. Inflation, on the other hand, has hovered around 6% in recent years, averaging just over 5% per year between 2014 and 2018.