Finland says it is busy searching for Finnish companies to collaborate on its Green Hydrogen initiatives in Namibia.
During an interview with Eagle FM during the Mining Expo and Conference, the Finnish Ambassador for Trade and DevelopmentMinistry for Foreign Affairs, Eija Rotinen stated that while her country does not have large corporations to engage in such projects, it does have smaller businesses that could contribute to the effort.
The recently concluded Namibian mining indaba included foreign and local exhibitors under the theme “Namibia’s Role in the Sustainable Supply of Minerals to Support the Global Energy Transition.”
Finnish President Sauli Niinistö, along with a business delegation met with President Hage Geingob in Windhoek in April this year with plans to invest in mining and green hydrogen.
President Niinistö made a state visit to Namibia from 27 to 28 April 2023 during which he discussed bilateral relations between Finland and Namibia and the global political situation, saying,“Our countries share a long history – now we are building the future”.
“We are trying to find Finnish partners and companies to work on these projects together with the others. I know Germany has big companies to invest in such. We have no such giant companies but we have smaller companies that could contribute to the efforts,”Ambassador Rotinen said.
Namibia aims to develop a green fuels sector capable of producing 10-12 million tonnes per year (Mtpa) of hydrogen equivalent (H2) by 2050.
The initiative was presented at COP26 in 2021 as part of the Namibian government’s commitment to decrease emissions to zero by 2050 in accordance with the Paris Agreement.
According to Rotinen, who is in charge of assisting Finnish enterprises in entering emerging markets, Finland’s links with Namibia are strong, making dealing with the country easier.
She describes Finland’s connection with Namibia as “a brother-sister-like relationship, which makes it easy to work together.”
Throughout the week, she was accompanied by a group from Finland, which comprised Mining Finland, a non-profit associationwhich promotes export of Finnish mining technology, promotes foreign investments to Finnish mining cluster and facilitating R&D and education collaboration among mining sector actors working in Finland or in cooperation with Finnish companies.
“We have some Finnish mining companies in Namibia, and many have long term experience of working in Namibia. Of course our countries share excellent relations and we are in some way like sisters and brothers, it is easy I think for us to work with Namibians,” she stated.
According to Rotinen, Namibia’s mining industry is both promising and well-established.
The ambassador shared the same views on value addition on raw materialsas Namibia’s Vice President Nangolo Mbumba and Mines and Energy Minister Tom Alweendo.
During the opening of the indaba, both Mumba and Alweendo stated that, while Namibia is open for business, it made it clear to these interested parties that the country will only do business with stakeholders who share its vision of local value addition to its minerals in order to produce finished products for export.
“It is important to get more added value in mining in Namibia and not just exporting the raw material because it is not bringing anything good. Finland as an EU member state, we are eagerly working together with other EU countries on this strategic partnership of EU-Namibia,” Rotinen added.
She emphasised that the clean energy transition, among other things, is at the centre of the Finnish government, adding that the Nordic country’s firms are interested in participating in the mining, oil and gas sectors in Namibia, with some already established.
“In regards to oil and gas, we have a big Finnish company that is working on biofuels and clean fuels. The initiatives being produced by Namibia are wonderful and extremely interesting, I would expect finish companies to be interest in that.”
Rotinen emphasised the importance of having numerous energy choices in order to control the old polluting fuels that still play a significant role.
In May of this year, the Finnish wave technology developer AW-Energy signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Namibia’s Kaoko Green Energy Solutions to collaborate on a project to generate green hydrogen from wave energy.
The project will be implemented in three stages in order to diversify Namibia’s energy industry.
This was after Finland announced in 2022 that it was looking for trade and investment opportunities in Namibia’s energy industry, with a special focus on green hydrogen.
In the same year, Ville Skinnari, Finland’s Minister for Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade, conducted a three-day visit to Namibia.
According to Business Finland, a public organisation under the Finnish Ministry of Employment and the Economy, the visit to Namibia was aimed specifically at Finnish energy sector players interested in green transition solutions.
Speaking to Eagle FM, Mining Finland CEO Lasse Moilanen stated that Namibia has an intriguing deposit.
“Our investors in Europe are interested in continuing discussions in Namibian mining projects,” Moilanen said.
Currently, around 20 Finnish companies have a Namibian commercial partner or distributor. Some large-scale Finnish businesses also have operations in South Africa. Nokia, Metso, and Wärtsilä are among them. Outotec’s sulfuric acid factory in Tsumeb is one of Finland’s greatest investments.
“From the European Mining Team Associations, we need more marketing of Namibia and giving information of the basic information of what is happening. Good information sharing is the key because the more we know about each other the easier it is to make some investment decisions,” Moilanen said.
Meanwhile, when asked how European companies are finding it doing business with Namibia, European Union Deputy Head of Mission in Namibia Gosia Lachut stated that they have received pretty minimal input from European companies.
She did, however, mention that European companies have expressed a desire for administrative simplification.
“This is with regards to the visa processes for example. I know visas are a global issue so of course. This is one of the points that those who want to come to Namibia for business or scouting of investment opportunities, do point to these,” said Lachut.
Another difficulty, according to Lachut, is that investors in some sectors point to the need for more qualified personnel or skill enhancement in Namibia.
Despite this statement, Lachut stated that the companies also imply that Namibians are already extremely well qualified in various fields.