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Open green hydrogen industry for digital startups and local innovators!

Open green hydrogen industry for digital startups and local innovators!

By Freeman Ya Ngulu.

It is generally expected that Namibia’s potential in green hydrogen could transform the local economy and the energy sector but the current ecosystem is dominated by large international projects and players, and digital startups and local innovators are not in the focus.

Some systemic dynamics hinder the small actors, for instance non-inclusive policies, lack of awareness of opportunities, resources and support channelled principally to large corporations, and limited local skills in green hydrogen.

A policy brief by Make-IT in Africa, a GIZ project run on behalf of the German Government, collected recommendations through Endeva’s multi-stakeholder process called ii2030 (inclusive innovation 2030).

ii2030 is a catalytic process that begins with a problem and an opportunity and ends with the implementation of the prototype of a systemic solution. It catalyzes collaboration amongst innovators from corporates, startups, the public sector, NGOs and scientists. Solutions are then developed in tracks around tech-based opportunities. ii2030 is an impactful, action oriented collaborative process.

The ii2030 Green Hydrogen in Africa edition was organised by Endeva, fully funded by Make-IT in Africa and supported by the Namibia Green Hydrogen Research Institute.

“We believe in the catalytic power of African innovation and digital technologies for green and inclusive development, outlines the climate for innovators in green hydrogen in Namibia and introduces some of the major players in the ecosystem, and shares recommendations to improve systemic dynamics for startups to enable them to grasp opportunities in the sector,” said Make-IT in Africa’s Anna Vambe.

Vambe added that the green hydrogen sector in Namibia is still at an early stage. Yet, the country’s position as a global leader in critical resources, such as access to renewable energy, access to land and support from the government and development partners, is a vital asset for the sector’s growth. “The presidency established the Inter-Ministerial Green Hydrogen Council in 2021, and the body published Namibia’s Green Hydrogen and Derivatives Strategy in 2022.”

She sees potential however, chirping that “Only a few Namibian companies and startups are active in the sector. The skills and knowledge in green hydrogen and related sectors like renewable energies are underdeveloped, and startups have only a few opportunities. The overall policies, offtake, and financing situation are unclear due to the sector’s infancy. Nevertheless, the potential in the industry is excellent.”

During a co-creation workshop in Windhoek in June 2023, 16 organisations collaborated to draft systemic solutions for startups to identify and exploit opportunities in this new industry. The workshop showed the need for more coordination in skills development and human capacity. The Ministry for Higher Education, Technology and Innovation is currently considering different options how best to coordinate all public and private sector actors to exchange skills for the green hydrogen sector.


About The Author

Freeman Ya Ngulu

Freeman Ngulu is an investigtor, an author and a keen entrepreneur. His speciality is data journalism for which he loves to dig deep into topics often ignored by mainstream reporting. He tweets @hobameteorite.