Alweendo Wants ‘Just and Equitable’ Energy Transition

Mines and Energy Minister Tom Alweendo

While Namibia is poised to play a leading role in the global energy transition fuelled by green hydrogen, it would be unfair to expect the country and other African countries to outrightly discard fossil fuels, says Mines and Energy Minister Tom Alweendo.

Namibia is currently pulling out all the stops to develop the nascent US$12 billion green hydrogen economy, at a time that the country has also announced substantial oil discoveries.

During the recently held Namibia Green Hydrogen Conference, which drew a large number of major global energy transition captains, Alweendo once again raised the debate on fossil fuels versus renewable energy.

Elephant in the room

“I think there is an elephant in the room and this big elephant goes like this: is there no contradiction when Namibia embraces both fossil fuel and renewable energy. Are we not supposed to heed the call for the energy transition?

“Recognising the inevitability of the energy transition, we understand and accept that fossil fuel may no longer be the fuel of the future and that the world is transitioning to renewable energy. We are, however, also calling for an energy transition that is just and equitable among all nations,” the Energy Minister said.

Alweendo warned that there was a need to guard against an energy transition process that has the potential to adversely affect some countries without any mitigation.

“It is the case that countries that are highly dependent on fossil fuel for their socio-economic development, may need a little more time to transition than countries that have already made an inroad into the renewable energy space. Let us also remember that in Namibia, just like in many African countries, our biggest challenge is energy poverty. For that reason, our focus is more to provide livelihood to the country’s growing population,” he said.

Real investment

Alweendo, however, reassured the conference of Namibia’s commitment towards developing the green hydrogen economy. He said real investment from the local and international private sector will play a critical role in making this venture a success.

“For us to reach our vision, we need real investments. Given the fact that green hydrogen is a relatively new industry, we may find that private capital might be a little bit hesitant. Here again for us to galvanise private capital, we need global collaboration that will have the effect of providing a conducive investment environment. We need the global direct foreign investments to come up with innovative investment instruments that will assist in de-risking private capital,” Alweendo said.

The Energy Minister said Namibia was on course to achieving the vision of a green hydrogen hub and thereby contributing to addressing climate change.

Mitigate risks

“Our ambition is to become a continental green hydrogen hub. And this is possible primarily because of the world-class solar and wind resources. We also have more than enough land where green hydrogen assets can be built. Having great solar and wind resources are certainly necessary. However, these might not be sufficient for us to reach our goal of becoming a continental green hydrogen hub. You need other ingredients. We need to be aware of some of the risks that need to be mitigated,” he said.

He emphasised the importance of global collaboration.

“Green hydrogen is the energy of the future that will be demanded globally. Anything that is demanded globally, will need global collaboration. Think about things like the standards and the regulations. You need to have a globally accepted standard of what green hydrogen is; and this can only be achieved when you have a meaningful global collaboration. It is through collaboration and not competition, especially at this early stage, that we will create a sustainable global green hydrogen industry,” Alweendo said.

International collaboration

Since last year, Namibia has been actively seeking collaboration with other nations on green hydrogen. Partnerships have been forged with countries such as Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands, as well as the European Union.

“To our potential investors in this new industry, I can confirm that in us you will find a serious and committed partner. We will do all what is necessary to ensure that we provide you with a conducive investment environment. We will be a partner you can rely on. We, however, will demand one thing from you. The envisaged investment has to be mutually beneficial to both you as an investor and us as your host country,” Alweendo said.

He warned the energy investors that Namibia will demand “to the extent possible”, that their investment takes the issue of local content seriously.

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