Namibian Economics To The Point – March 2022

1 Apr 2022

Brigitte Weidlich

With summer drawing to a close, Namibia has received fairly good rains during March, although not in all regions. The government has relaxed most COVID-19 measures this month and wearing of masks in the open is not necessary anymore. Attendance for public gatherings was increased from 500 to 1000 people.

A negative PCR-test is no longer necessary for fully vaccinated people when entering Namibia. A valid vaccination card must be presented instead.

Namibia and Germany have signed a memorandum with regard to the promotion of green hydrogen.

The inflation rate end February stood at 4,5 percent  a slight decrease from 4,6% in January, according to the Namibia Statistics Agency.

German-Namibian cooperation for green hydrogen

Namibia’s Mines and Energy Minister, Tom Alweendo and Germany's Vice-Chancellor and Federal Minister for Economy and Climate Change, Robert Habeck have signed a joint declaration of intent (JDoI) on 30 March 2022, along the sidelines of the Berlin Energy Transformation Dialogue (BETD).

German Minister Robert Habeck and Namibia’s Minister Tom Alweendo signing the agreement in Berlin. Photo: Frans Kalenga

Both ministers agreed to collaborate on accelerating the development of Namibia's green hydrogen ambitions. Namibia has agreed to assist Germany during its energy transition to cleaner fuels.

The JDoI will promote the production, processing, application, storage and transport of green hydrogen, as well as the joint marketing and support of projects by private sector players in Namibia and Germany.

Minister Habeck said he intends to visit Namibia in November with a business delegation after further work has been carried out within the framework of the signed declaration.

He added that he would work on mechanisms to aggregate German demand for green hydrogen, provide greater visibility for possible off-takes of Namibia’s future green hydrogen products, and work with Namibia to reduce capital costs for H2 related investments.

Minister Alweendo also visited the company “Enertrag” in Brandenburg, Germany, a shareholder in the HYPHEN consortium, the successful bidder to develop Namibia’s first green hydrogen industrial plant near Lüderitz. Alweendo had the opportunity to ‘test’ drive a car, powered by green hydrogen.

New diamond recovery ship for Namibia

President Hage Geingob inaugurated the brand new diamond recovery vessel Debmarine Namibia, which is set to recover 500,000 carats annually from the seabed. With the traditional bottle of champagne breaking perfectly at the ship’s bow, the ‘MV Benguela Gem’ received its name from the head of state.

The new diamond recovery ship ‘MV Benguela Gem’. Photo: De Beers

“This state-of-the-art vessel is a perfect example of the smart partnership between government and the private sector, but also showcases the perseverance and hard work of the mining sector,” said Geingob when he inspected the N$7 billion (about 430 million Euros) vessel at Walvis Bay.

The 177 metres long and 27 metres wide ‘Benguela Gem’ is the world's most technically advanced diamond recovery vessel and carries a crew of 160.

It was built within two years at the Damen shipyard in Romania from parts coming from 27 different countries, while some of the steelwork was fabricated in Walvis Bay.

The ship was delivered three months ahead of schedule and 17% under budget.

Debmarine Namibia is a subsidiary of Namdeb Holdings, a 50/50 joint venture between the De Beers Group and the Namibian government. In 2021, Debmarine Namibia recovered around 1,1 million carats of rough diamonds in the ocean and some 400,000 carats on land.

Big loan for railway operator TransNamib

The state-owned company TransNamib has secured a long-term loan of N$2.6 billion (about 160 million Euros) to implement its five-year business plan. TransNamib chief executive officer Johny Smith said the loan came from the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), in partnership with the Development Bank of Namibia (DBN). It will be used for the procurement of new rolling stock refurbishing of rolling stock, modernisation of the TransNamib workshop and the upgrading of various technical equipment.

The company is in need of new locomotives and is currently upgrading several sections of Namibia’s railway network. The intention is to shift the transport of goods form road to rail. 

More renewable energy plants

The construction of a new 20MW solar-power plant outside Usakos by independent power producer (IPP) Aason has started. This will boost the solar energy capacity in the Erongo Region to 54 mega watt (MW).

Other solar-power plants in the region are the Karibib PV Park (5,3MW), the Omburu InnoSun solar-power plant (4,5MW), Omburu NamPower PV Plant (20MW) and the Trekkopje solar-power plant (5MW).

The managing director of Aason, Iyaloo Nangolo, says the construction of the plant was a sign that local generation capacity was improving and expanding.

The company intends together with other IPPs to increase the commercially installed renewable energy generation plants in Namibia from the current 150 MW to 760 MW by 2025.

The power utility NamPower is also planning two more energy-generation projects: a wind-power project with 40MW capacity in Rosh Pinah close to the Orange River and the Otjikoto biomass-power project (also 40MW) near Tsumeb.

First car rental hybrid vehicles launched in Namibia

The company Namibia2Go is the first car rental company in Namibia to add hybrid vehicles to its fleet. It showcased the first of twelve Toyota Cross 1.8XS CVT HV at an event to invited guests and media representatives in Windhoek at the end of March. Namibia2Go is part of the Namibian tourism company, Gondwana Collection Namibia.

Launch of the new Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid at the Namibia2Go car rental in Windhoek. Photo: Namibia2Go

Hybrid technology combines petrol and electric power to deliver the best possible performance and efficiency. It includes a generator that automatically charges a battery while driving.

Test drives in Cape Town have shown that the Toyota Cross 1.8XS CVT HV’s average petrol consumption is 4.7l/100 km, a great advantage in times when fuel prices are reaching record heights.

The vehicle is also more environmentally friendly due lower CO2 emissions. The Toyota Cross 1.8XS Hybrid is off-road capable, economical and comfortable to drive. It is equipped with the latest safety technology, 2x4 drive and a good ground clearance – an ideal vehicle for self-drive tourists.

The new rental cars from Namibia2Go will hit the road as soon as they arrive. Namibia2Go has already received numerous enquiries from environmentally conscious self-drivers and interested parties, the Gondwana Company mentioned. 

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