Namibia is currently going through one of the worst economic periods in its history and high rates of unemployment, which were exacerbated by Covid-19. Now, on the eve of the country’s green hydrogen emergence, Namibia has been encouraged to embrace and accept crucial skills provided by foreigner workers.
This is according to Namibia’s green hydrogen commissioner and Presidential economic advisor, James Mnyupe, who this week affirmed that the country has to become much more comfortable with relying on others to help it achieve the green hydrogen ambitions.
“For green hydrogen to work, we have to learn from others and be able to allow other skills to come in with capital that is not ours, to come in and build the country,” he said at the International Energy Conference being held in Windhoek. The conference commenced on Wednesday this week, and is scheduled to conclude today.
The green hydrogen commissioner noted that Namibia embarked on the prospective industry to use as an opportunity to change the current economic landscape as a new engine of growth. He said currently, Namibia’s economy is driven by the exports of raw materials such as minerals, and now the country aims to start focusing on manufacturing aspects as well as focus on services.
Mnyupe added that Namibia is considering crafting a new synthetic fuels Act that will not just regulate this new industry, but will also empower it to be one of the most competitive in the world.
“We are trying by all means to have a policy and legislative environment that will not scare away and reduce our competitiveness. We want Africans to start viewing this green hydrogen and transition projects as enablers of inter-regional trade,” he explained during a panel discussion on green hydrogen prospects in Africa.
He further questioned the industrial potential of natural gas, noting this hydrocarbon could fuel the blue hydrogen concept.
Elaborating on Namibia’s green hydrogen dreams, he clarified that the country should not just export electricity into the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP), but should enable substantial economic activities within the regional space. At the same time, this resource could enable the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) vision, which he said is more than just selling low-value products.
At the same occasion, minister of mines from Equatorial Guinea, Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima, congratulated Namibia for the new ambition, and advised the country to integrate the scheme with blue hydrogen. Green hydrogen is produced using electrolysis of water, while blue hydrogen utilises natural gas.
“For such a project to be economical, it will cost you a lot of money and raise more liquidity. Maybe if you integrate it with blue hydrogen on a smaller scale will it allow you to fast-track your project and invite a lot of investors,” the visiting minister advised.
He further urged Namibia to source markets on the continent as this would shorten routes and reduce significant transportation costs.
The energy conference is being held under the theme “The energy mix: positioning for industrialisation, investment and growth”. The keynote address was delivered by Namibia’s minister of mines Tom Alweendo, who highlighted the need for Africa to end energy poverty by 2030 in order to be positioned for a just transition towards a greener energy mix.
For Africa, a just transition means utilising the combination of available fossil fuels and renewable energy sources to alleviate energy poverty, enhance energy supply, create livelihoods for local people and stimulate economic development to enable the transition to a greener, leaner energy mix.
A case in point is Namibia’s commitment to contribute to decarbonise the planet through its renewable green hydrogen project, while encouraging the exploration of the recent light oil and gas discoveries on the Namibian coast earlier this year.