African Energy Chamber Executive Chairman, NJ Ayuk, speakers during the panel included Hon. Tom Alweendo, Minister of Mines & Energy, Namibia; H.E. Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima, Minister of Mines & Hydrocarbons, Equatorial Guinea; Hon. Peter Chibwe Kapala, Minister of Energy, Zambia; and H.E. Dr. Omar Farouk Ibrahim, Secretary General, the African Petroleum Producers Organization and Ndapwilapo Selma Shimutwikeni – Managing Director, RichAfrica Consultancy
Namibia is on a track towards sustainable economic growth on the back of multi-sector expansion. With the growth of the energy market, in particular, comes new opportunities for industrialization, and a ministerial panel session during the fourth edition of the Namibia International Energy Conference in Windhoek on Wednesday examined this very concept. Moderated by African Energy Chamber Executive Chairman, NJ Ayuk, speakers during the panel included Hon. Tom Alweendo, Minister of Mines & Energy, Namibia; H.E. Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima, Minister of Mines & Hydrocarbons, Equatorial Guinea; Hon. Peter Chibwe Kapala, Minister of Energy, Zambia; and H.E. Dr. Omar Farouk Ibrahim, Secretary General, the African Petroleum Producers Organization.
Despite having 11 billion barrels of oil reserves, 2.2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves and significant renewable energy resources, Namibia heavily relies on energy imports and continues to struggle with energy reliability. Approximately 50% of the population have no access to energy, and critical industries and economic activities such as mining, manufacturing and transportation are heavily impacted by an unreliable energy supply. However, with the discovery of sizeable resources, Namibia is well positioned to drive socioeconomic development and industrialization. “You should never hear about abandoning what God has given to you to develop. Europe and North America have used oil and gas to develop themselves for centuries. Since the 1800s there have been studies about CO² emissions damages to the environment, but they have chosen to use it to benefit their people to the point that they no longer need to use oil and gas for their economies to grow. Our continent is the most poverty stricken in the world, and we need to use these resources to develop ourselves,” stated H.E. Dr. Ibrahim.
In this regard, the development of oil and gas in Namibia will enable the country to secure sustainable energy supply to fuel its economic growth while ensuring GDP growth. As the country progresses with expanding its energy sector, regional countries have a role to play in helping Namibia realize its energy and developmental goals. “Namibia shouldn’t apologize to anybody for having a discovery and developing its oil and gas. Namibia has the right to utilize and develop with its own resources. My advice to you Minister, is that you have to visit other African countries that have already developed their resources and are already producing, at the ministerial level, at mid management level, and technical level. That will teach you how to advance the development of the industry according to your needs, and not according to the needs of the IOCs,” stated H.E. Minister Lima.
The development of Namibia’s energy sector will be critical for a number of reasons, such as price stability, job creation, power generation and industrialization. With oil prices increasing globally due to the Russian-Ukraine tension and demand for electricity increasing across the continent, the use of local oil resources would enable Namibia to reduce the vulnerability of its industries and businesses from the global price volatility while also maximizing the monetization of these resources. By so doing, Namibia will also generate revenues which can be directed to fund the development of other sectors and industries.
“Whether it will be a blessing or a curse, depends on what we decide to do. Things happen because of the policies you take and the strength of your institutions. Things can go wrong for two reasons. Either economies are dependent on the sector completely and do not produce anything else, or the resources coming from the sector do not serve the public and serve the elites. I have every reason to believe that it will be a blessing for us, because I have faith in our institutions,” stated Hon. Alweendo, adding that, “Regarding oil and gas permits, I am not saying make it easy, but make sure that whatever system you have in place is understood by everyone and that it allows you to make decisions quickly. Because investors don’t have time to wait, they want to realize their return on investment, and if you make it too hard or complicated, they will leave and not come back. That is what we try to do.”
Finally, the panel emphasized the role Namibian energy can play in the wider region, with opportunities for oil and gas exports, regional power networks and multi-sector deals on the cards. “Currently it is a tragedy that 60% of Zambians use wood fuel. You can see the rate of deforestation that is going on. Our aim is to reduce this 60% to 40% usage of wood fuel. As a result, this will accelerate our exploration of other energy resources within the country. While we wait for the exploration and setting up of gas hubs, we are also waiting on Namibia to set up the gas pipeline to Zambia,” stated Hon. Kapala.
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