Updated: Oct 19, 2021
The Namibian Government has impressive and admirable plans to propel Namibia to the forefront of the Green Hydrogen revolution that is slowly awakening, given increasing global focus on the Green Economy. Amongst many other efforts, the Government has made Green Hydrogen a featured part of its Vision 2030 national strategy and recently the Namibian and German Governments inked a partnership in August 2021 to collaborate on Green Hydrogen technologies.
At a national level, Namibia imports most of its electricity from South Africa, despite having an abundance of green energy producing potential. With the potential to become a net-exporter of power and propel the country to the front of a new energy frontier, the benefits are clear and their pursuit laudable.
An important, yet often under-emphasised component of these plans are the SMEs who will play a major contributory role to the success of these policies after the national frameworks and global partnerships have been forged. The SMEs are the engine by which facilities are built, maintenance conducted, deliveries made, staff fed and facilities repaired.
In particular, the key issue of unemployment affecting the SME sector, also of national importance, must be thoroughly discussed and the impact that Green Hydrogen can have be explored.
The Namibian economy faces an incredibly high unemployment rate due to multiple years of low economic performance and an extractive economy based on low value and unprocessed commodities, despite having an eager, youthful & technically savvy population. The economic context means this potential labour is often unskilled and without prospects.
An integrated approach that combines Green Hydrogen’s strategic goals with addressing the local SME market is a natural win-win. There are three components to such a deep integrated approach incorporating the SME sector:
SKILLS DEVELOPMENT & INCOME GENERATION
The creation of this new value chain must deliberately include the SME sector to develop new skills amongst a labour force who are currently un/under-employed or self-employed. This can take the form of formal training, apprenticeships, exchange programs, internships – all to create the fuel by which SMEs can contribute to the success of the overarching policy. The resultant upskilled SMEs are then able to compete for the contracts supporting the Green Hydrogen installations.
LOCAL ENERGY TRANSITIONING
Naturally, the bulk of any green hydrogen produced will either be exported or used to generate electricity that is fed into the national grid, ready for export. In addition to these macro-use cases, local and grassroots use cases must be developed. Active inclusion of hydrogen as a fuel for local use must be explored and enable energy transition away from non-renewables in the informal sector with SMEs supporting this local use.
LOCAL AWARENESS & ADVOCACY
In addition to the “hard” deliverables of pipelines, facilities and others, a deep public awareness campaign must be embarked upon to grow public awareness of Green Hydrogen in Namibia as a valuable, valid and approachable energy solution for the local market and generate new use- cases. at the grassroots level.
There is an incredible potential for the development of the Green Hydrogen economy to propel Namibia to the front of the global economy – we must ensure that we do not leave behind the SMEs who have the capability to be the instrument of its success.
In partnership with the many Governmental agencies and other stakeholders working with SMEs, Impact Tank is focused on realising sustainable benefits to the Namibian SME sector such as increased employment, income generation and skills development – powered by the Green Hydrogen revolution. We welcome contact from any stakeholder, local or international, interested in discussing these development areas topics, finding overlap and working towards a common good.