Green hydrogen to ‘flood Namibia with jobs’

Jemima Beukes
Hyphen Hydrogen Energy CEO Marco Raffinetti has encouraged government to carefully weigh its options when drawing up legislation around green hydrogen localisation.Namibia is expected to finalise her policy on green hydrogen in November to coincide with the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27), which aims to bring governments together to accelerate global efforts to confront the climate crisis. It ought to be kept in mind that the green hydrogen project is not like oil and gas projects where investors simply extract, pack up and leave, but rather a perpetual exercise, rebuilt after every 25 years and with the promise of 50 projects, he said, adding that the project will “flood the country with jobs”. “It’s got to be weighed in such a way that it is sustainable and the localisation requirements are structured in such a way that it enables the industry to develop, because we become self-fulfilling. So, how do you create the set of incentives around an industry to drive industrialisation? “If you look at the Middle East for example, those economies were not built with the limited population in those countries - they were built with bringing people in. “Those are questions government needs to answer, not us. How big would government want the industry to be? Is local employment more important than doubling your population with people who are not Namibians? That is a philosophical question, and then that would limit the size of the opportunity for Namibia,” Raffinetti said. Commitment As part of its promise to upscale locals for the new industry, Hyphen is currently in the process of sending the first group of local technicians for training in Germany at one of its shareholders facilities. The company is planning to design a targeted training programme with the Namibian government to upscale locals for the project, who will eventually move up in the value chain. To underline its commitment to creating jobs, Hyphen has already employed five Namibians, it said - some pulled from the diaspora, including a training coordinator tasked to establish the skills needed for this project, who will man the office in Windhoek. Engineers’ ‘daily bread’ Meanwhile, Charles Mukwaso of the Engineering Council of Namibia said engineers needed for a green hydrogen project are available locally, adding that there’s no way locals should not be part of its planning and execution in a senior capacity right from the start. According to him, electrolysis, the process of using electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen, is like “daily bread to an engineer” and “Namibia has over 3 000 registered engineers who can plan and execute projects of any magnitude and complexity, including green hydrogen projects. “The narrative of ‘Namibia has no engineering expertise’ is usually pedalled by those who want to use that false acclamation to exploit our potential as a country,” Mukwaso said. Local engineers are - in fact - currently participating in the green hydrogen planning initiatives through the Namibian Society of Engineers, where they provide professional and unmatched expertise to the planners, he said. [email protected]