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Labour Supply For Green Hydrogen Too Unrealistic, Says Experts

By:Dwight Links
Labour experts have warned that the 600 000 jobs envisioned for the U$10 billion green hydrogen project by 2040could be unrealistic given the lack of skills in this particular industry in Namibia.
This focus follows the visit by Germany’s vice chancellor and minister of economic affairs and climate action, Robert Habeck on the practicality of how Namibia can meet the demand that will come from green hydrogen technology and energy production.
Labour supply in Namibia for the Green Hydrogen project is the most important topic. According to the Labour Force Survey of 2018, the country has an unemployment rate of 33.4 % for a population of 2.4 million. Youth unemployment is at 46%.
According to labour specialist Herbert Jauch, the figure of 600 000 jobs should clearly define how this will be achieved.
“600 000 jobs to be created in the green hydrogen economy is a stunning figure and would be a major game changer, but it would not happen by itself. Namibia has to be very cautious about how this will come about and would have to put into place mechanisms to ensure this happens,” Jauch noted.

Green hydrogen is produced by using renewable energy — like wind and sun, both of which Namibia has in abundance — to power the electrolysis of water.
The German company that is involved in the project will have ownership of the technology and that the energy produced will be mainly exported, while Namibia might still be dependent on the importation of energy.
According to the Namibia Green Hydrogen Derivatives Strategy, not all labour will be sourced from the local market as the country does not have the skills to fill all of these jobs so the government will invest in training and tailored immigration policies.
Trade Union Congress of Namibia secretary general Mahongora Kavihuha said that this projection of 600 000 has to be based upon scientific data analysis.”The German state seems to be fooling their Namibian counterparts in this project,” he claimed.
Kavihuha also questioned whether the relevant labour stakeholders were involved in any discussion about the promises of generating 600 000 jobs for Namibians in 17 years.
“Do we have the lecturers and teachers to teach and pass on the skills? Was an allocation made in the country’s budget for such investment in our education sector?” Kavihuha quizzed.
Earlier this year the German government funded a Namibian Youth for Green Hydrogen (Y4GH) scholarship programme with the aim to build a Green Hydrogen-ready workforce.
Kavihuha also pointed out that health and safety, alongside the manufacturing standards of the energy, were considered as part of a holistic approach involving relevant local stakeholders.
Econimist Dr. Omu Kakujaha-Matundualso questioned the figure of 600,000 jobs to be created by the project..
“A similar project that promised much in terms of job creation was the Targeted Intervention Programme for Employment and Economic Growth (TIPEEG) that never produced what it was meant. An honest estimate would at least see Namibia creating 4 000 jobs by the same time frame,” Kakujaha-Matundu said.
“Another thing to note is whether the upstream and downstream effects will really materialise. The opposing point is how could a country focus one third of the jobs in one sector only?”he asked.
Kakujaha-Matundu also pointed to South Africa potentially competing with Namibia for the same business in future.
Namibia’s domestic electricity supply has failed to keep pace with rising demand, and Namibia generates less than half of the energy it consumes. NamPower, the government-owned power utility, operates generation facilities including the Ruacana Hydroelectric Power Station (330MW capacity), the Van Eck Power Station (coal; 120 MW capacity), the Paratus Power Station (diesel; 24 MW capacity), the ANIXAS Power Station (diesel; 22.5 MW capacity); and – the Ombuvu PV Power Station (solar; 20MW, inaugurated in June 2022). The generation facilities rarely if ever produce at full capacity. Peak demand is over 600 MW.

Namibia has long relied on imported power from South Africa (Eskom), but South Africa’s own economy has put strains on its domestic electricity generation capability and thus its ability to export. Namibia has a power purchase agreement with Eskom. which expires in 2025. However, NamPower has also diversified its sources of imported power over the short term by signing power purchase agreements with utilities in Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and Mozambique.

Dwight Links

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