Minister of Mines and Energy Tom Alweendo says that Namibian institutions, political system, and legal framework are such that there is no reason why the oil discovery and production of green hydrogen should not be a blessing for the country.
Alweendo said at the recently concluded Namibia Institute of Corporate Governance (NICG) conference and general meeting in Windhoek.
The conference brought together government and parastatal bodies, business sector leaders and regulatory institutions for an exchange of insights and ideas, and impart knowledge that will underpin governance excellence in the coming years.
The event was also underpinned by themed panel discussions and breakaway sessions and was held under the theme,”Mind Shift: Real Contextualised Sustainability for Namibia,”with the aim to contextualise a range of locally impacting policy documents, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); environmental, social, and governance factors (ESGs); the successive Harambee Prosperity Plans (HPPs) and National Development Plans (NDPs); and nationally determined contributions to reducing global emissions, adapting to the impact of climate change, and identifying ways to achieve a sustainable economic and social future.
According to Alweendo, it has been proven that countries with strong institutions, stable political systems and legal frameworks are able to manage their own revenue with a positive impact on the economy and citizens.
“I have reasons to believe that our institution and political systems and legal framework are that there is no reason why the oil discovery and the production should not be a blessing for us,”the Minister said.
He said Namibia needs to manage these resources with a clear understanding that the benefit from them belongs to the government and future generations.
He added that this kind of management requires a mind shift.
“For the public to have the mind shift to trust the government to manage our resources well, they need to have trust. Trust is not given but earned; we have to be transparent with everything we do,” Alweendo said.
Alweendo emphasised environmental sustainability is a topic that is high on the agenda in corporate boardrooms and government planning meetings as well as society.
In addition, the Minister stated that consumers around the world are more vocal than ever and are demanding an ethical supply chain and low carbon footprint.
“This is for a good reason, environmental degradation is real and therefore our management and exploitation of natural resources cannot continue as business as usual,” he pointed out.
Quizzed on whether Namibia’s political stability and legal framework is stable enough for Namibia to benefit from its resources, political analyst Henning Melber said the wealth of natural resources has been poorly badly governed.
“After 33 years of independence, Namibia has the political stability investors want but the wealth of natural resources has been badly managed, and exploitation for the benefit of international companies and capital stakeholders abroad as well as a few privileged in government administration who benefit from rent capitalism and corporations has continued,” Melberargued .
He said rather than maximising benefit for the majority of Namibians, the colonial style plunder continued.
The German-Namibian Africanist and political activist said the fisheries and mining did not add value to an economy owned by Namibians.
“More transparency and accountability by strong institutions in charge of checks and balances are required to secure maximum benefit from resource nationalism for the local economy and the ordinary people,” he said.
Moreover, he stressed that this requires a clear strategy concerning exploration licences and concessions.
“What we face instead is a type of ‘anything goes’ by signing declarations of intent with regards to green hydrogen energy and issuing of exploration concessions for fossil fuel like oil and gas, left, right and centre.”
Melber also said there is a confusing and contradictory situation when it comes to precious earth metals and other minerals, adding that the Namibian government urgently needs to get its act together.
“This is to secure the best interest and benefits for Namibians and not for Chinese, Russian, Canadian, Australian, U.S, EU, British or any other foreign companies,”he said.
He further said there is a need for a clear regulatory framework including strict environmental assessment instead of using optimism for the gains of few local rights holders.
“Namibia’s wealth needs to benefit the poor and unemployed. This mission is far from being accomplished,”Melberconcluded