The Namibian WEC Committee aims to provide electricity for its people, through optimum and unbiased ranking of energy resources in Namibia (including solar and nuclear resources), increasing generation capacity, and expansion of transmission and distribution networks. It faces the challenges of rising generating costs in Namibia and other countries, and aims to work with organisations such as the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) and the African Forum for Utility Regulators (AFUR) to spread the World Energy Council’s influence and knowledge and help to guide energy progress in Namibia and Southern Africa.
Miryam Thomas holds an MBA in Human Resources Management and Marketing Management from Bangalore University, India and a Bachelor of Arts Honours Degree in Business Enterprise. She also holds a Diploma in Business and Personnel Management from London Metroploitan University, UK as well as a National Diploma in Computer Studies from Lambeth College, UK. Currently Ms Thomas is the Chief Control Officer at the Directorate of Energy-Ministry of Mines and Energy, responsible for all administrative and financial matters for the Directorate. She has been the Secretary General for the Namibian Member Committee since the re-establishment of the committee in 2010. She is also Secretary for the Electricity Steering Committee at the Ministry, a body that deals with energy affairs in Namibia and is attended by CEO’s and MD’s. Since 2008, she has been a part-time lecturer in the department of Business and Management at the Polytechnic of Namibia. During her tenure as Secretary General, she has organized a series of successful national meetings in Namibia.
Energy in Namibia
Comparing 2019 and 2020 results, Namibia presents an Uncertainties section purely focused on macroeconomic issues and an actions space that looks specifically to Energy Vision and Technologies as transition tools. Geopolitics and Regional Issues are perceived with reduced impact.
Energy Affordability has moved from Action Priority to Critical Uncertainty. The country has vast natural resources but relies on imports for roughly 60% of its energy. The introduction of the Modified Single Buyer Market Framework, introduced competition by offering consumers a choice of electricity supplier and the transfer of risk to the investor. The arrangement will also ease the fiscal burden on NamPower and the government for guarantees and subsidies.
Commodity Prices emerge as a Critical Uncertainty. The mining sector is an important contributor to the Namibian economy. Export revenues are affected by commodity price fluctuations in the international market, particularly for uranium, gold and diamonds. Namibia imports 100% of its petroleum requirements, including coal, largely used for electricity production.
Economic Growth remains a Critical Uncertainty. Namibia’s economy contracted 1.7% in 2019 but is expected to return to growth. This contraction is in line with the ongoing devastating drought, as well as an impairment in major sectors such as diamond mining, wholesale and retail trade. The construction sector is also set to shrink, leading to a reduce overall growth.
Renewable Energies are perceived as an Action Priority with stronger impact. Namibia has abundant renewable resources such as solar, wind and biomass, but they remain largely underdeveloped. That makes the country reliant on electricity imports from neighbouring countries, mainly South Africa. The country has announced a five-year energy programme to generate 220MW of renewable power. This development will be led by NamPower in collaboration with the private sector.
Energy Efficiency also emerges as an Action Priority with stronger impact. Increased energy efficiency and more efficient transport are among measures being considered to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Still, efforts to improve the sector’s efficiency in general and the uptake of energy efficient technologies and practices have remained disjointed and limited in both scale and scope. The government is developing legal and regulatory instruments to encourage the adoption of energy efficiency measures.
Electric Storage appears in the Action Priorities section and ties in to plans to expand the use of variable renewable energies, particularly wind and solar. Namibia embarked on a desktop study on energy storage aimed at providing regulatory guidelines for the sector. These include a draft storage licensing guideline, the assessment of existing and emerging energy storage technologies and energy storage standards.
Going forward, possibly the biggest obstacle to Namibia’s economic potential is the fact that only approximately a third of all Namibians have access to electricity. Namibia must address the problem of inadequate access to electricity (especially in rural areas), affordability, self-sufficiency and energy independence. At the same time, Namibia needs to ensure that energy sector developments are climate-resilient and able to assure energy access even in a non-stationary natural environment. The Namibian government is looking to renewable power as a solution to these challenges since the country has the world’s second highest solar irradiation territory.