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Aspirations and reality of Namibia’s green hydrogen dream, Dr Hage Geingob

Aspirations and reality of Namibia’s green hydrogen dream, Dr Hage Geingob

By Josef Kefas Sheehama.

His Excellency Dr Geingob’s vision has been realized as Namibia has made significant strides to establish itself as a major player in the world of green hydrogen production. The transformation of Namibia’s economy and the realization of green hydrogen in the country were spearheaded by Dr Geingob.

Drawing on the proverb that states “Rome was not built in a day,” it serves as a reminder that significant and great accomplishments require time and work. Success in any endeavour demands years of patience, perseverance, and long-term thinking. Thus, it is only fair that we revisit Geingob’s role in the economic governance of Namibia, particularly some of the economic policies and programmes that laid the foundation for continued economic growth.

Although some of the critics and economic analysts, over the years, have downplayed the realization of green hydrogen on the country’s overall development, President Geingob leveraged his personal qualities and principles of integrity, accountability and service to champion the implementation of those economic reforms. His economic strategy has been the identification of poverty reduction as an overarching objective to ensure macroeconomic stability, which is crucial for ensuring sustainable economic growth. Therefore, it is worthy to note that the economic policies and reforms rolled out by the former President saw progress in poverty reduction and employment creation.

Furthermore, as part of the transition to a carbon neutral environment, it is evident that there is political and ideological pressure to make hydrogen a vital part of the energy mix. As a result, green hydrogen has the potential to contribute to these efforts by displacing carbon-intensive fuels throughout the economy and resulting in significant emission reductions.

The economy will benefit greatly from the establishment of a reliable domestic energy supply, which will also lower imports from nearby nations. Notably, the development of a domestic green hydrogen market will spur the formation of numerous domestic businesses and generate thousands of jobs for the local population in every industry along the value chain. The aforementioned development has positioned Namibia to enhance clean energy and fulfill the most important directive of COP26. Member nations decided to focus on the tougher 1.5C aspirational goal of the Paris Agreement, realizing that the 2C target would allow massive destruction to occur.

This development will not only benefit Namibia but support the research that since the Paris Agreement was signed, has shown a temperature rise of 2C above pre-industrial levels which would cause changes to the climate system that would be, in many cases, catastrophic. Some of them would be irreversible, so switching the focus to a 1.5C goal represents vital progress. Hence, the COP27 emphasis on climate finance, adaptation, and loss and damage, as issues of vital importance to developing nations. The energy crisis and economic woes of the past year could even make COP27 a turning point to clean energy and lower carbon emissions. Namibia has world class conditions for generating renewable electricity through solar and wind power, which are key drivers to reduce the production cost of green hydrogen. To exploit and benefit from this potential, the Namibian Government has high ambitions for both building large scale solar and wind farms and producing green energy carriers and raw materials.

Moreover, we should acknowledge what is already being achieved in our country and take a pragmatic and realistic view of what can feasibly be achieved in the short, medium and long term. The road to a green hydrogen economy will not be an easy one as future demand and the structure of the market remain uncertain. To reach net zero emissions will require significant investment in current and new clean technologies, and away from fossil fuels.

Against this background, to realize the true potential of hydrogen locally and to capture the benefits, policy support mechanisms are essential for the penetration of green hydrogen into multiple sectors and to encourage sector coupling. I view green hydrogen as the path forward to full decarbonization in a way that is reliable. It is important to note that green hydrogen can create more space for renewables by driving electrolysis with energy that would otherwise be curtailed. These renewable resources have the potential not only to meet Namibia’s domestic energy needs but also to position Namibia as a major exporter of clean energy and goods exhibiting high local content.

It is my belief that a green economy can only be achieved through the commitment and actions of multiple sectors and stakeholders in society including government, business and individuals. Decisions at these levels have the potential to transform local and regional economies, while having a pronounced impact on the way in which communities and individuals live within society. In addition a range of enabling conditions, strategic priorities and policy reforms will be required for the redirection of investments and the reconfiguration of infrastructure to support a green hydrogen economy.

Namibia should give green hydrogen top priority as a possible decarbonization solution to support these ongoing initiatives. Green hydrogen has the potential to enhance the standard of living for all residents by generating jobs, boosting foreign direct investment, and assisting the nation in achieving its sustainability goals. Along with increasing energy self-sufficiency, increased energy generation will result in surplus energy that can be exported to neighbouring countries.

In light of the future prospects that green hydrogen holds for Namibia, genuine action is necessary to ensure that the nation fully takes advantage of these opportunities. For green hydrogen projects to maximize benefits and minimize negative effects on local communities, good corporate governance, community engagement, and transparent practices are critical. To ensure that the government will act to address high-level dishonesty and the potential risk of conflicts of interest, appropriate policy frameworks are required. Avoiding this at all costs is advised.

To conclude, we are reminded of the great responsibility we have to uphold the vision and continue the work of His Excellency Dr. Hage G. Geingob as we continue his work. As a vital element of a future energy system based on sustainable practices, green hydrogen has enormous potential.

As His Excellency’s vision states, the creation and application of green hydrogen has the potential to greatly improve energy security, promote economic expansion, and decarbonize a number of industries.


About The Author

Josef Sheehama

Josef Kefas Sheehama has more than 21 years banking experience serving as Manager Credit, Branch Manager and now Centralize Credit Head Office at Bank Windhoek. He holds a Certified Associate Institute Bankers CAIB (SA), Associate Institute Bankers AIB(SA), Chartered Banking Professional CHBP (SA), B Com Banking, B Com Law, Postgraduate Islamic Finance and Banking, MBA and an LLB degree. Also founder of church since 2009. He is an independent Economics and Business Researcher. Authored more than 100 articles in Economics and Business. Served on Northwest University panel (Green Hydrogen). His MBA thesis published by the International Journal of Current Research (Exploring sustainable economic challenges and opportunities).