Modern sedimentary total organic carbon (TOC) content as a proxy for surface water export production was mapped on the shelf and on the upper continental slope of the Benguela upwelling system using 137 core tops. Shelf maxima in TOC can be correlated with maxima in surface water productivity. On the slope, high TOC contents are observed offshore from sites of strong modern upwelling. Estimates of modern TOC mass accumulation rates (MAR) show that approximately 85 % of the total is accumulating on the shelf.TOC MAR were calculated, mapped and budgeted for the Holocene and for the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) using 19 sediment cores from the continental slope. During the LGM, centres of deposition and production have migrated off-shore with respect to their Holocene positions. TOC accumulation on the continental slope was approximately 84 % higher during the LGM than during the Holocene, possibly reflecting enhanced productivity.The TOC distribution patterns and sediment echo-sounding data suggest that undercurrents strongly influence the sedimentation off Namibia. Winnowing and focusing result in great lateral heterogeneity of sedimentation rates and sediment properties. Individual cores therefore do not necessarily reflect general changes in export production. These results highlight the need for detailed regional studies based on a large number of sediment cores for highly heterogeneous high productivity areas in order to derive general statements on total fluxes.