Namibia’s electrification rate currently stands at 34 percent, meaning over a million Namibians do not have access to electricity, a situation that has prompted Mines and Energy Minister, Obeth Kandjoze, to call on the private sector to help Government fix the problem.
Speaking at the inaugural National Stakeholder Workshop on Namibia’s Energy Policy in Windhoek this week, Kandjoze said the involvement of private investors will alleviate the funding problem the government is facing and relieve the borrowing requirement of the country’s power utility.
Kandjoze believes private investors have a bigger role to play in the energy sector than they currently do.
“Our national electrification rate stands at around 34 percent. This implies that some two-thirds of our population still do not enjoy access to a modern form of energy such as electricity. For national development to include every Namibian, we have to increase the number of people who have access to electricity,” said Kandjoze. The minister was quick to point out that creating access to electricity is expensive.
“Every year, Government makes available funds to further electrify rural Namibia. In this way, we have created tens of thousands of new connections since Independence, yet we are far from bringing electricity to every household in the country,” he said. “This national challenge is another demonstration of where the government and the private sector can meaningfully collaborate and in this way, jointly develop the country,” he said.
Kandjoze called on stakeholders to find ways of making electricity accessible to those without it; weaning Namibia from dependency on fossil fuels and imported electricity; and how power distributors can contribute in driving the national agenda.
He said private investors should play a greater role in addressing the future energy needs of the country.
Kandjoze said he has met about 30 organisations that are active in the energy sector in the past two months and now understands how to shape the energy policy.
“We realise that the private sector has a definite role to play not only for the sake of investment but also to introduce new expertise and technologies,” he said. The minister also said that there are numerous opportunities for the private sector ranging from conventional electricity supply solutions to innovative off-grid business models and investments in embedded and distributed generation and others.
Kandjoze said Namibia cannot afford to continue importing 100 percent liquid fuels and more than 60 percent of its electricity requirements because apart from this being a strategic risk, “it also perpetuates the export of capital that could be used on other pressing issues”.
He also emphasized the importance of access to energy, but was quick to caution that access to energy is not sufficient. “Rather, we have to ensure that access to affordable energy is created, and more specifically, affordable modern energy. This is a challenge that many developing nations are grappling with, and Namibia is no exception,” he said.