Legislation and the direction of sound policies will play a crucial role in the expected transformation of the revolutionary transformation of the Namibian Economy.
In anticipation of gains from green hydrogen projects and newly discovered oil off the coast, the Namibian Government must create effective policies and laws that will direct new industrial development in such a way as to secure the economic future.
It was recently reported that China’s trade with Namibia amounted to N$18 billion over the past year and that it will increase. Multinational oil giants have been boasting about new and promising oil discoveries in the Orange Basin for a while now.
Namibia signed and sealed deals for the production of green Hydrogen worth many billions of Namibian Dollars more.
With the price for uranium increasing steadily, existing mines are being restarted to extract uranium while new prospects are opened up.
Novel mining techniques are proposed on top of the artesian aquifer of the Aranos Basin, one of Namibia’s most coveted water resources and farmers and residents of the southeastern regions of Namibia are naturally fearful of the unknown.
Human nature dictates that novel ideas are at first scary and dangerous to a large majority of the species but the old adage ‘time heals everything’ normally wins out.
Immediate convenience and financial or other gains, in most cases, overcome the fear of the unknown in record time.
Like a cloud of mist that is exposed to the hot Namib Desert sun vanishes from sight from one moment to the next, morality and the stoic belief that the old and established ways are better, suddenly disappear when the price of sale is right.
Aggrieved farmers and other interested parties, in an open letter, asked members of the Namibian Cabinet to carefully reconsider allowing another multinational mining giant with deep pockets to walk roughshod over a natural resource they deem vitally important for the survival of both man and beast.
On the flip side, court battles between prospective miners and the Namibian Government are announced, fought, re-evaluated, and cases withdrawn as new and more accommodating or more restrictive legislation is created and promulgated.
Some of the prospectors are fly-by-night strip miners focussed on levelling mountains while generating mountains of cash in the shortest possible time frame, while others came to Namibia with reems of scientific data to convince the government that their mining method will definitely not harm a fly.
The Namibian Government’s policy dictates that every miner in the country must submit a valid and scientifically sound environmental impact assessment before an exploration licence is even considered.
Once a new resource is established, the prospective miner must submit an environmental rehabilitation plan and must budget for that process during the life of the mine they intend to establish before a mining licence is issued.
The establishment of a specific mineral resource also determines the so-called life of the mine which indicates an approximation of when the facility’s profitability will come to an inevitable end.
The period is generally set at approximately 20 years based on price projections, exchange rate projections and other esoteric variables used by share salesmen who operate on stock exchange floors around the globe.
How the Namibian people will hold gigantic multinational companies and their plethora of deep-pocketed but obscure investors to their promises of restoring the environment to an acceptable environmental and scientifically sound condition, is yet to be determined.
One glaring example of such a test is the Rössing Mine in the Namib Desert where the facility’s ownership changes hands from one multinational company to the next. As ownership changes so does the life of mine, simply because of the gargantuan amount of money that will be needed to rehabilitate the terrain and environment to a level acceptable by the current policy.
Namibia cannot allow its natural resources to be mined and exported without any regard for the sustained well-being of the people who live in the country and rely on the environment to carve out a living beyond mere survival.
We can and should, under no circumstance, give free rein to industrialised countries to dig up and hollow out our country for a fist full of dollars and empty promises of job creation.
The nation should think very carefully about the conservation of crucial natural resources vital for the continued existence of humans and animals alike.
Like the tides in the ocean, governments come and go but it will remain the responsibility of the government of the day to ensure that people can still live well in Namibia in the future and only sound legislation and positive policy directions will determine that in the end.