President Hage Geingob says the government is attempting to create jobs with the green hydrogen project and should be permitted to do so.
Geingob made the remarks during the signing ceremony of the Feasibility and Implementation Agreement (FIA) with Hyphen Hydrogen Energy at the State House on Friday.
Cabinet has already authorised the signing of an agreement with Hyphen to handle the development, execution and operation of the green hydrogen project.
According to government, the project is expected to generate up to 15,000 new jobs during the construction phase and 3,000 permanent jobs during its operation, with the goal of filling 90% of these jobs with Namibians and 20% with young people.
“When we are not creating jobs. We are now taking steps to create jobs so, allow us. I have a mandate to do that, so allow us to do that. We are consulting, we are educating people or we are deciding to do that because that is a mandate we have that we got from the electorate,” Geingob said.
Namibia aims to produce about 300,000 tonnes of green hydrogen per year for regional and global markets with this project within the Tsau // Khaeb National Park, using 5GW of renewable power capacity and a 3GW electrolyzer.
At the same time, Geingob urged Namibians to give green hydrogen a chance and not let local uproar derail the project.
“Let us allow this project a chance. Let us not regret the undue interferences and cries and leave the areas poor. Give us a chance to work on this project which is so promising. I will be gone in a few months time, it is not my project, so give a chance to this beautiful idea,” he pleaded.
In response to local outcry, the President stated that Namibia has learned from the Epupa dam project that local interference kills initiatives.
As a result of this intervention, he claims, the communities where the project is intended would remain impoverished.
The Namibian and Angolan governments propose to construct a hydroelectric plant and dam downstream of the Epupa Falls in Orokawe or Baynes.
This had been criticised by local leaders and residents, who expressed concerns over the planned construction of a hydroelectric station on the Kunene river.
The Angolan and Namibian governments are working together to develop the 600MW Baynes hydro project, which will be implemented through the Angola-Namibia Permanent Joint Technical Commission (PJTC) on the Cunene river basin, with grant funding from the African Development Bank, Africa Legal Support Facility and the Swedish Fund.
“We learned a lesson in Kunene with Epupa dam. It could have changed the face of that poor area but because of interference from local people, that project died because they listened to the local people and therefore that area is still poor,” Geingob said.
Last year, local media stated that the Roads Authority was nearing completion of a feasibility study to extend the 175km road network from Opuwo to connect the Baynes Hydro Project, completing the port-to-port corridor on the Namibian side.
The feasibility studies were projected to be finished by September 2022, with construction beginning in 2023 once finance for the project is obtained.
With the green hydrogen project taking centre in the south of Namibia, Geingob said this area is also considered poorer and without having the leadership involved, the government would have not succeeded.
“That is why we tried our best to bring all the leaders to sit here. We should hold hands to work together. It is not for us, it is for the people,” the President explained.
At the same event, Geingob praised Hyphen for putting their faith in Namibia to deliver on this project.
“Thank you very much for trusting us and we think we will deliver.”