WINDHOEK, MARCH 20 – I have energy to dance for rain. That said; thinking back on the bit of 2019 that we have experienced through media so far, coverage on sustainable energy supply and -mining activities have been amongst top of recall. Other than negative perceptions towards the reliability of SADC supply contracts (Eskom), dependency, and the still relatively slow take-up of green energy solutions, Namibian media also directed most negative coverage towards cost management, employee- and labour union relations, financing of energy, exchange rates, performance of the local and global economy, and the financial sustainability (performance) of companies. Do not panic, this is not new – rather an African Resources Hangover that is not going away.
What sustains an unsustainable production environment? The access to sustainable finance, the leadership, existing infrastructure, partnerships/relationships, politics? Strides towards more sustainable solutions have been made (example Green Financing, -Bonds), but the overall structure of these sectors in an economy still needs ‘restructuring’ in many cases. Take for example South Africa’s mining and manufacturing sectors; being responsible for almost two-thirds of South Africa’s total electricity consumption. In sum, the industrial, commercial and transport sectors consume approximately 75 percent of energy produced in South Africa. Take contribution towards employment, skills development, new business/ start-ups growth, and GDP into consideration (contribution to GDP less than 30%).
Namibia’s Vision 2030 envisages the transformation of Namibia into an industrialised nation with a viable natural resources‐based export sector, and increased size of skills‐based industrial and service sectors, and market oriented production. Rapid industrialisation will place significant pressure on the Namibian electricity supply industry, and challenges its growth and ability to deliver electrical energy on demand. PPPs, innovative new businesses, collaborations, and skills development (entrepreneur to job market) addresses some of these gaps, but the pace seems exponential whilst implementation in the bigger picture, is too slow.
For the coming years, there is a need to adopt fresh perspective on what it means to create shared value by sustainable innovation. For industries to move beyond traditional financial performance measurements such as profitability, towards the full ‘menu’ of financial, social and environmental factors that will have an impact on the business’s long-term operations, and country growth goals, stakeholders need to be on board throughout informed strategic decision making processes involved.
From the ‘economic heart’s perspective’; giving now for now in order to look good (short-term donations or ‘pop up events’ versus long term corporate social investment projects) are falling through the cracks. Pushing numbers (be it for gender equality, business reports, board or shareholder meetings) or using delaying tactics has also met a brick wall to some extent. Breakthroughs are nearby. Smart partnerships, economic diversification, industry leadership, and the alignment with national development objectives cross-industries are creating sparks. The small gains create less awareness, but they are there, and there are many. Pop us a message with your insights and reports, just sharing some food for thought today. – Natasja Beyleveld
Managing Director NaMedia