HOW much do ordinary Namibians really stand to benefit immediately and directly from Green Hydrogen?
Yours Truly Ideologically cannot but think loudly and wonder in view of the ongoing seeming fanfare bordering on craziness if not misplaced expectation surrounding Green Hydrogen. Especially in terms of the ordinary user, especially those who currently do not have access to any means of energy, starting from the so-called informal settlements in most of Namibia’s urban centres, which at a rapid rate have been gaining room as sprawling towns or cities. As well as our rural areas, predominantly the communal ones, where and which by the day are and have increasingly been showing every sign of never shedding off their colonial legacy as economic backyards and/or hinterlands.
All credit is indeed due to the Namibian government for its rural electrification programme. But 33 years down the line of independence, there are still many and for that matter large pockets of rural areas which are still to be electrified. And the rate at which rural electrification has been implemented, haven’s knows how long it would take Namibia to be fully covered, especially the rural areas, many if not a significant parts still in the dark. Granted the expensiveness of connecting most of the rural areas to the national grid, one would have thought the route these days is wind and/or solar energy if the whole of rural Namibia is to be covered and in considering the inclination these days towards green energy. But still it cannot be said with certainty that Namibia has been making significant strides in this regard, especially in terms of giving the rural areas reasonable coverage in terms of energy.
Africa, and Namibia by any means is no exception to be falling prey to what Yours Truly Ideologically cannot otherwise but characterise as yet another scramble for its natural resources, this time around in the field of energy via its winds and sunrays. This would have been a welcome step indeed if more than anything the interest the world is showing in Namibia, and other African countries, is driven more than anything else, by a genuine motivation to help her develop these energy sources, first and foremost to satisfy her energy needs.
There’s no denying that in terms of energy, Namibia is far from self-reliant and self-sufficient. Not while currently she is generating 1,403,380 MWh of electricity as of 2016 (covering 36% of its annual consumption needs). Meaning that the difference thereof she must be importing. The state of energy generation and distribution currently, therefore, cannot be a pointer to the general unequal distribution of resources in Namibia and the corollary inequality and attendant poverty within Namibia. As much there’s no reason to believe that green hydrogen shall in any significant manner, if at all, be accessible and/or improve the living standards of all, if not most, especially of those dearly in need of such resources. Not to mention its availability generally to most Namibians. Because few of the Namibian products, those that are processed in the country, are ever available for consumption locally, especially to those most in need of them. A case in point being fish, a product one would have thought is readi
ly and widely available to all local consumers and at a price they can afford but which to most Namibians currently it is a luxury.
While Namibia is richly endowed with marine resources, among them fish, I bet you there are many Namibians who have never tasted a fish, despite the fact that given their relative abundance, they ought to have been one of the staple foods in Namibia. Same can be said about many other products such as mineral resources, like uranium. While uranium has been mined in Namibia for donkey years, and continues to be, Namibia to this day rarely make use of this mineral resource, which is being mined largely for exporting. One use of uranium is energy in which Namibia is deficient. Yet the country minimally, if at all, make use of this resource to provide energy for herself. The list is endless.
Given this capitalist reality, it is difficult how green hydrogen can be any different. Hence the masses in Namibia can hardly share in the excitement surrounding the development of green hydrogen but only the elite themselves. The country is made to believe by the powers that be that there is and has been, lately, unprecedented interest in Namibia by foreign countries and investors pertaining to the development of green hydrogen. But it remains to be seen if such interest is more than what foreign interest in the country has been all the years dating back to colonialism. Purely parochial and as far as what these countries can benefit from a such development. Which is first and foremost for their countries to develop it for export to their own countries rather than first ensuring that such energy is developed first for the satisfaction of Namibia’s own energy needs and for the surplus thereof to exported.
This has been the trajectory of any foreign powers’ presence and engagement in Namibia, or any other African and/or colonised country. And there’s no indication or reason to believe that this development paradigm and trajectory, dating back to colonialism, is changing, has been changing, and shall soon be changing. Equally there’s no reason to believe that with respect to green hydrogen, it shall change. Not in the lifetime of some of us, if ever in the lifetimes of the immdetiate future generations. Because simply Namibia’s current political elite, and the foreign political economic elite as much, is as yet and shall soon yet be inclined towards such an eventuality. Not to mention the fact that green hydrogen, for Namibia, as yet remains only experimental and it would be years if not decades before it becomes a beneficial reality for Namibia, let alone for a significant number of the masses in the country, very much in need of benefitting from it, benefitting.
Bluntly green hydrogen may turn out to be nothing more than just a get-rich-quickly scheme for the few currently seemingly driving it. While in fact they are just insignificant pawns in the global capitalist mechanisations for the benefit of the capitalist world and its countries and peoples. Without even the masses in the metropoles even remaining on the fringes of such benefits.