Opinion Piece: The Climate crisis is very real and the need to mitigate its impact is the focus of nations, governments, and companies across the globe. Finding new ways to generate energy in itself is not new, but we now realize that it is ‘one minute to midnight, for us to truly make a difference. Namibia is one of many nations looking at what opportunities there are to be explored.
Affordable and Clean Energy is essential to Namibia’s future and within the wider context of Africa, and certainly Earth’s future if we want our way of life to continue as we know it. Namibia has always been a great custodian of its environment and ecological surroundings. Going so far as to place it squarely within its Constitution and protect its precious surroundings in every activity it undertakes. This needs to and does include the pursuit of Affordable and Clean Energy. Clean energy is the future and Namibia needs to be at the forefront of making this transition and reap all direct and indirect economic benefits. Our climate is perfectly suited for this, as is our sparsely populated nation.
Green Hydrogen, solar power, and hydroelectric dams have all been floated as ideas and are being thoroughly researched. President Hage Geingob said; “Namibia’s green hydrogen strategy would unlock greater investment, and would establish the country as a regional and global decarbonization champion.” In simple terms, renewable energy from the sun and wind will be used to separate hydrogen molecules from desalinated water. Those hydrogen molecules in their pure form or in derivative green ammonia can make up a variety of products, including sustainable fuels. Namibia is perfectly located to become a Green hydrogen powerhouse for the region and beyond and with more than USD 9 Billion being earmarked for investment in this ambitious scheme, failure is not an option.
This will not only lead to direct investment from overseas and within a space of a few years possibly change the economic fortunes of Namibia and the employment opportunities of Namibians. Especially for the youth, whom the Government is focused on creating jobs. The direct employment opportunities that are a result of the ambition to generate 300,000 tonnes of Green Hydrogen per year will be focused on building facilities, infrastructure, maintenance, and upkeep. What may not be as obvious is the second opportunity to create employment, one which can and should be held and kept within Namibia’s hands. That is of the supply chain for the Green Hydrogen industry. Roads, transportation vehicles, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), safe and environmentally friendly disposal of waste, consumables (food & beverages), leisure facilities and the list goes on and on. A whole new industry will be created, which will require a constant and uninterrupted supply of goods and services. Namibia can and should embrace these opportunities to add to the impact and contribute to the growth of the economy as a result of Green Hydrogen.
Whether it is food, accommodation, entertainment, machine tool and hire, medical facilities or simply protective clothing that the people working within this newly developed sector will need, Namibian companies are perfectly capable of supplying it. It is essential to make this bold statement and stake our claim as Namibian companies early on as we as a nation often by default look to South Africa or further afield to furnish our industries and be our preferred suppliers. This leaves very little for the Namibian businesses, we must impress on everyone involved that local is indeed lekker. It doesn’t have to be this way and if we want to be a regional powerhouse in renewable energy, we can certainly take our local industries along for the ride and have them grow and benefit as suppliers to this new industry. This way we can truly benefit as a nation and generate offer real and prolonged career and employment prospects to our people.
Therefore we must embrace renewable energy in all its forms to truly become the country we want to be and to be future-proof and climate-resilient, whilst jumpstarting our own economy.
Written by: Bonum Energy Namibia