A panel discussion on the second day of Namibia International Energy Conference 2023 examined the country’s potential to become a global hub for sustainable energy solutions.
Meeting future increases in global energy demand took center stage during a panel discussion at the Namibia International Energy Conference (NIEC) 2023 on Thursday. Under the theme, “Namibia: The Next Energy Hub for Global Solutions,” the session assessed how recent hydrocarbon discoveries in the Orange Basin, in conjunction with Namibia’s vast renewable energy resources, could position the country as a major energy supplier to the sub-Saharan African region.
Moderated by Selma Usiki, Exploration Geologist for marine mining company, Debmarine Namibia, the panel discussion featured James Mnyupe, Green Hydrogen Commissioner & Economic Advisor to the Namibian Presidency; Dr. Sindila Mwiya, Technical Permitting Advisor, Risk-Based Solutions and International Resources Consultant, Sivieda Group; Frans Kalenga, Head of Sustainable Energies, National Petroleum Corporation of Namibia (NAMCOR); Alex Ho, Regional Director for Southern African, Enterprise Singapore Refineries; and Anthony Paul, Independent Consultant, Energy Policy & Strategy, Caribbean Energy Specialists.
Kicking off the discussion, panelists examined how recent developments in Namibia’s energy sector could serve to maximize growth stemming from both renewable and non-renewable resources. Immense diversity in Namibia’s energy potential – ranging from large-scale offshore hydrocarbon deposits to vast solar and wind resources to potential to develop green and blue hydrogen – sets the country apart from other frontier energy hotspots.
“What will it take for us to become an energy hub?” prompted Frans Kalenga, Head of Sustainable Energies for NAMCOR, stating, “We have oil and gas, we have renewable energy sources, we have green hydrogen, and we have blue hydrogen. Now, all of these things cannot exist in isolation. There has to be collaboration. The country’s energy hub potential will also depend on the production of critical minerals, which plays an integral part in this conversation.”
Meanwhile, the panelists discussed the importance of multilateralism with regards to the country’s efforts to foster a resilient energy economy. As such, Namibia’s policy on international relations and cooperation is poised to promote solidarity within the region and globally, positioning the country as a hub for energy development while securing long-term trade and investment partners.
“In terms of growth, consumer-driven demand will push international monetization into the market. Our objective is to drive mutually beneficial developments,” stated Alex Ho, Regional Director for Southern Africa at refinery operating company, Enterprise Singapore Refineries.
Furthermore, by maximizing Namibia’s mineral resources, as well as its potential to become a green hydrogen hub for Africa, the southern African nation is well-positioned to provide a strong foundation for renewable energy development. The panel highlighted Namibia’s determination to play a leading role in the global energy transition, while monetizing its resources and bringing equity and energy security to its population.
“We have hydrocarbon opportunities – although that is limited in terms of the monetary availability – yet solar, which is one of the fastest-growing opportunities for Namibia in the central and southern parts of the country, offers one of the key opportunities for energy development,” stated Dr. Sindila Mwiya, Technical Permitting Advisor for Risk-Based Solutions and International Resources Consultant at company management firm, Sivieda Group, adding, “I’m glad to see today that it’s one of the opportunities that is being pushed ahead.”
While foreign investment in the Namibian energy sector has been limited to date, the country and its government have undertaken several reforms to create more attractive operating conditions and a more business-minded regulatory framework. In conclusion, the panelists evaluated the long-term prospect of Namibia as an energy hub, stressing the importance of an integrated master plan, strong fiscal incentives and favorable operating environment in fostering confidence from investors.
“One of the things we do well is the development of master plans, which serve to attract investors,” stated Anthony Paul, Independent Consultant for Energy Policy & Strategy at Caribbean Energy Specialists, adding that, “Putting standards in place is very important to attracting contractors and service providers. Therefore, think about what you want as a country, and design that into your plans.”
“Namibia’s energy potential is quite symbiotic,” stated James Mnyupe, Green Hydrogen Commissioner & Economic Advisor to the Namibian Presidency, concluding, “Namibia has a fantastic potential to attract opportunities across the entire energy value chain. We see an opportunity for oil and gas revenue to help develop green hydrogen, synthetic fuels, and renewable energy technologies going forward. We have put in structures to handle capital and to use that capital to de-risk other sectors within the energy value chain.”