Allan le Hané
The climate crisis is real, and the need to mitigate its impact is front and center for nations, governments and businesses around the world.
Finding new ways to generate energy isn’t new in itself, but we now realize it’s “one minute to midnight” for us to really make a difference. Namibia is one of many nations looking at opportunities to explore.
Affordable and clean energy is essential for the future of Namibia and in the broader context of Africa, and certainly for the future of the Earth if we want our way of life to continue as we know it. Namibia has always been a great steward of its environment and ecological environment.
Going so far as to place it squarely in its Constitution and protect its precious environment in every activity it undertakes. This must and does include the search for affordable and clean energy.
Clean energy is the future and Namibia must be at the forefront of this transition and reap all the direct and indirect economic benefits. Our climate lends itself perfectly to this, as does our sparsely populated nation.
Green hydrogen, solar power, and hydroelectric dams have all been touted as ideas and are being researched extensively. President Hage Geingob said, “Namibia’s green hydrogen strategy would unlock more investment and position the country as a regional and global decarbonization champion.
Simply put, renewable energy from the sun and wind will be used to separate hydrogen molecules from desalinated water. These hydrogen molecules in their pure form or as derived green ammonia can form a variety of products, including sustainable fuels.
Namibia is perfectly positioned to become a green hydrogen powerhouse for the region and beyond and with over US$9 billion earmarked for investment in this ambitious program, failure is not an option.
This will not only lead to direct investment from abroad and, within a few years, will perhaps change Namibia’s economic fortunes and employment opportunities for Namibians. Especially for young people, on whom the government is focusing on job creation.
Direct employment opportunities resulting from the ambition to generate 300,000 tonnes of green hydrogen per year will be concentrated in the construction of facilities, infrastructure, maintenance and servicing.
What may not be so obvious is the secondary opportunity to create jobs, which can and should be owned and kept in Namibian hands.
That is, from the supply chain of the green hydrogen industry.
Roads, transport vehicles, personal protective equipment (PPE), safe and environmentally friendly waste disposal, consumables (food and drink), leisure facilities and the list goes on.
A whole new industry will be created, which will require a constant and uninterrupted supply of goods and services. Namibia can and should seize these opportunities to scale up impact and contribute to the growth of the economy through green hydrogen.
Whether it is food, accommodation, entertainment, machine tools and rentals, medical facilities or just the protective clothing that people working in this newly developed sector will need, Namibian companies are fully capable of providing it. It is essential to make this bold statement and claim our position as Namibian businesses early on, as we as a nation often default to South Africa or further afield to supply our industries and to be our preferred suppliers.
This leaves very little for Namibian businesses, we need to make it clear to everyone involved that local is indeed “lekker”. It doesn’t have to be that way and if we want to be a regional powerhouse in renewable energy, we can certainly take our local industries with us and grow them and benefit as suppliers to this new industry. . In this way, we can really benefit from it as a nation and generate real and prolonged career and employment prospects for 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 resilient to climate change, while reviving our own economy.
* Allan le Hané is a representative of Bonum Energy Namibia.