The mines and energy ministry last week Friday submitted an amount of N$212.4 million to the National Assembly for consideration and approval. The bulk of the funds – just over N$62 million – motivated by minister Tom Alweendo, is to be allocated to the Energy Security of Supply programme.
This programme is focused on securing sufficient and reliable supply of sustainable electricity and to reduce dependence on imports. This also includes funds to oversee the implementation of three new Solar PV powerplants with a production capacity of 45MW. The Ministry also envisages to electrify about 36 rural schools with N$44 million, allocated towards the rural electrification program.
“It is undeniable that the economy is not in a healthy state, that the state revenue has been static while at the same time the pressure to increase expenditure is mounting and that our debt is reaching intolerable levels.
To turn the ship around, it is for us, as elected leaders, to put shoulder to the wheel. To do so with grit, agility and a focus of an eagle. It is for us to recognise that the economy needs a strong shot in the arm,” said Alweendo during the motivation.
A N$24.6 million budget was allocated to the ministry’s Promotion of Investment in the Exploration programme, which aims to regulate the mining industry, promote mineral resources potential and attract investors. Through this programme, the ministry is expected to finalise the redrafting of both the Mining and Diamond Acts that are to be tabled in Parliament during the current financial year.
Said Alweendo: “To further enhance transparency and efficient service delivery, the ministry is exploring the introduction of on-line mineral rights application system. More efforts will be geared towards enforcement of laws and conditions of licences to ensure that operations are conducted under safe conditions”.
Then, for the Creation of Knowledge of Geological Resources programme, just over N$54 million was allocated to generate baseline geoscience data and information, as well as carry out scientific research.
“Geoscience information enhances knowledge and creates awareness of Namibia’s geological system. For the current financial year, the ministry aims to better understand the geological character and mineral potential of the //Karas and Kunene regions. This will be achieved by acquiring and interpreting multi-disciplinary geophysical, geochemical and geological data. This work is expected to provide the mineral exploration industry with data and knowledge that reduce risk and encourage mineral exploration in the targeted regions,” Alweendo explained.
Furthermore, some 10.9 million has been set aside for the Protection of the Diamond Industry programme. This programme is mainly dedicated to protecting Namibia’s diamond resources through sound regulatory oversight.
Said Alweendo: “We intend to enhance beneficiation of locally produced diamonds in support of the Growth at Home strategy. The ministry will also revise diamond licenses application criteria and conditions; intensify inspection and monitoring of the diamond value chain activities. In addition, the ministry will continue to build the necessary skills and expertise in-house in the areas of diamond sorting and valuation”.
Moreover, the Petroleum Security of Supply programme has received an allocation of N$11.2 million to ensure the security of petroleum supply and provides a conducive environment for the exploration of hydrocarbons in the country. Under this programme, the ministry aims to continue regulating the downstream petroleum industry.
“In this regard, there has been a concern about the proliferation of retail fuel stations that has the potential to threaten the sustainability of the sector. To address this concern, the ministry has reviewed its licensing guidelines and conditions. The sector is also threatened by the illegal importation of fuel from the Republic of Angola. We are busy addressing this matter with the collaboration of all the relevant stakeholders,” Alweendo stated.
Finally, the Policy Coordination and Support Services programme has been allocated N$48.9 million to support core ministerial functions. Part of this allocation will go towards the upgrading and expansion of the ICT infrastructure.
The Ministry of Mines and Energy has the mandate to manage the country’s mining sector, simultaneously ensuring that the exploitation of local mineral resources is carried out in the best interest of Namibia.
It is also the mines and energy ministry’s responsibility to guarantee the availability of energy needed to power the economy.