‘Don’t neglect other sectors over green hydrogen’

World Bank’s bosses meet Geingob
The World Bank yesterday advised Namibia to strike a balance between developing her green hydrogen ambitions and growing existing industries.
Ogone Tlhage
Namibia’s green hydrogen project is worthy of praise, the World Bank said, but hastened to caution the country against neglecting other sectors of the economy.

While green hydrogen has the ability to uplift the economy, it gaining prominence should not see government abandoning other industries, the bank’s vice-president for eastern and southern Africa, Victoria Kwakwa, told President Hage Geingob at State House yesterday. “The green industrialisation, yes, it's the one that's going to do the heavy lifting. But you're also going to have to continue work on supporting small and medium enterprises [SMEs] because it is really important for equity and addressing some of the significant inequalities. You’re going to have to create an ecosystem that allows them to have the skills and to have the access to finance that allows them also to thrive,” she said.

“This green industrialisation holds great significant promise. This is really tapping [into] all your natural resources, leveraging to where the global community is going, so I think that’s a good place to begin,” Kwakwa said.

She lauded recent investments in the green industrialisation space in Namibia - notably by HyIron, which intends to refine iron resources using clean energy, a first for Africa. She also applauded an anticipated US$10 billion investment by Hyphen Hydrogen Energy in the Tsau //Khaeb National Park, which, once commissioned, is expected to produce 300 000 tonnes of green hydrogen for regional and global markets. “We hope that these investments, these early investments, will be catalytic and really bring others in, demonstrating and showing that Namibia has a track record,” she said.

Reducing unemployment

Kwakwa also commended Namibia’s efforts to ensure local value-addition of its minerals, saying this would help drive down unemployment.

“The approach that you're taking... stressing domestic content, domestic jobs, domestic procurement, I think all of that will contribute to over time alleviate this employment challenge,” she said.

“We see you do it in your green industrialisation approach - trying to add value to your green resources here before they're exported. [That] is [the] right approach, a fundamental approach, the way to go,” she added.

Other countries were emulating Namibia’s efforts around local value-addition, Kwakwa noted.

I think several other countries in Africa are also realising that this is the way to grow. Zambia is trying to add value to their lives to produce electric batteries, working with the Democratic Republic of Congo, so I think that move is the right direction,” she said.

Meanwhile, World Bank is happy to support Namibia execute its green hydrogen strategy, Kwakwa said.

“We are happy to support in any way that we can, and we are honoured to have had a chance to support you in the strategy that you are putting in place.”