Namibia Energy Review
Energy plays a pivotal role in driving economic growth and development. Additionally, energy serves as the lifeblood of modern societies. As nations strive for economic growth, the demand for energy continues to escalate, along with the need for a reliable supply for industrial operations. The case is similar to Namibia, which has been growing its energy resources to meet economic growth needs and support sustainable development for its population. This economic melange has propelled the nation into a growth trajectory and a demand for formidable energy infrastructure. Urbanization is another force that has increased energy demand, as the population relies on electricity to support their domestic and commercial activities. Namibia relies on imported electricity, fossil fuels, and renewable sources such as wind and solar. Consequently, these sources have limitations due to potential disruptions, low production capacity, and increased environmental concerns about climate change. The soaring population, rapid urbanization, and burgeoning industrialization act as catalysts, propelling the nation’s need for sustainable and reliable energy sources to meet its goals for economic development and conserve the environment.
Energy Needs for Economic Growth
Namibia is a vast and resource-rich country in southern Africa striving for economic growth to improve the quality of life for its population. According to Von (2019), Namibia’s energy requirements are multifaceted, encompassing not only domestic consumption but also the demands of various industries. However, the nation’s dependency on South Africa’s imported electricity has affected their economic development strategies due to vulnerabilities to supply disruptions and escalating cost burdens.
Overview of the Current Economic Status
Namibia has experienced sluggish economic growth in recent years due to external shocks, structural limitations, and economic imbalances. According to Bobek, Moritz, and Horvat (2019), despite the nation’s diverse and extraordinary nature and culture, limited job opportunities and skills mismatches hinder human capital development and inclusive growth. Namibia’s economy heavily depends on commodity exports, such as diamonds, uranium, and fish. However, fluctuations in global commodity prices have exposed the vulnerability of this reliance, impacting the country’s export revenues. Income inequality has also remained a challenge in the nation due to social and economic disparities that cause social tension. The nation’s status has hindered the sustainable development of infrastructure and housing (Bobek et al., 2019). The country has recently faced a decline in tourism, manufacturing, and construction activities, leading to job losses and reduced economic activity. Despite the efforts to diversify its economy, Namibia is staggering due to income inequality, high unemployment rates, and vulnerability to external stock that affects infrastructure investment.
The current economic status of Namibia notably depends on its growing population, urbanization, and increasing industrialization. According to Von (2019), these elements collectively bring about a surge in energy demand across multiple sectors, such as manufacturing, transportation, and residential areas. Additionally, the country’s growing population creates an inherent need for expanded infrastructure, including energy supply, to meet the rising demands of urban areas (Von, 2019). Rapid urbanization is another factor intensifying the pressure on energy resources, as more people rely on electricity for housing, transportation, and commerce. Moreover, the increasing industrialization of the country necessitates a reliable and affordable energy supply to support manufacturing activities and fuel economic growth. The energy sources have not yet sustained Namibia’s economic momentum, affecting the strides in improving living standards and infrastructure.
Energy Needs and Demand Drivers
Due to urbanization and industrialization, Namibia has continued to experience an increased demand for energy. According to Amesho and Edoun (2019), urbanization and industrialization have been propelled by population growth and economic development. As more people move to urban areas seeking better opportunities, the demand for energy in these regions rises significantly. Additionally, the growth of industries, including manufacturing and mining, leads to a surge in energy requirements, as these sectors heavily rely on power for their operations. The demand for energy in Namibia has been accelerated by its diverse needs for mining, agriculture, and services that serve as the primary sources of foreign and domestic exchange. Moreover, the expanding middle class in Namibia also plays a role in driving energy demand. According to Von (2018), the middle class aspires to a higher standard of living, which often includes increased usage of energy-intensive appliances and technologies. This shift in consumption patterns further contributes to the rising energy needs.
Another energy demand driver is the transport sector and government strategies to supply electricity in Namibia. According to Bobek, Moritz, and Horvat (2019), transportation significantly contributes to the country’s energy demand in urban areas as the nation seeks to reduce climate change by minimizing carbon emissions from petroleum products. The need for sustainable energy for vehicles and transportation systems continues to rise as Namibia experiences economic development and an increasing need for electric vehicles. Additionally, efforts to enhance rural electrification and expand access to modern energy services in remote areas contribute to the need for energy. Von (2019) states that the government and various organizations are committed to extending electricity access to these communities where access to modern energy is limited. Electrification initiatives aim to improve living conditions, promote socio-economic development, and reduce reliance on traditional fuels.
The high cost of energy is a particular concern for Namibia. The high cost of obtaining a stable energy source hinders the competitiveness of industries and puts strain on household budgets. The reliance on imported fossil fuels impacts the country’s energy security and contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, which have environmental implications.
Namibia Energy Resources
Namibia possesses diverse energy resources that have the potential to contribute to its energy independence and sustainable development. The country has abundant renewable energy resources, including solar and wind. Solar energy is one of Namibia’s most abundant and reliable resources. The country has a tremendous solar power generation capacity due to the average 3,000 hours of sunshine per year (Von, 2019). Additionally, Amesho and Edoun (2019) state that in collaboration with private investors, the government has actively promoted the development of solar farms and rooftop solar installations to harness this clean and renewable energy source. Wind power is another promising resource in Namibia. The country’s coastal region is known for its strong and steady winds, making it suitable for wind farm development. Namibia’s wind energy potential is being tapped by establishing wind power projects, contributing to a diversified energy mix and reducing dependency on fossil fuels. Sustainable energy sources have significantly supported domestic operations and a few commercial sectors.
Biomass and hydroelectric power are other sources of energy in Namibia. According to Von (2019), biomass is a vital energy resource in Namibia, particularly in rural areas where agricultural waste and residues can be used for energy production. Biomass plants use discarded crop residues, wood waste, and animal manure to generate electricity and heat. Namibia also has the potential to harness hydropower, especially from the Ruacana Power Station, Kunene River, which forms a natural border with Angola. The Ruacana Power Station has a capacity of 347 MW and plays a vital role in Namibia’s energy mix (Von, 2019). This energy source contributes significantly to electricity generation, particularly during peak demand periods. The plant utilizes water from the Kunene River for power generation through turbine systems. Biomass and hydropower have provided affordable and modern energy services for domestic and industrial use in the nation.
The limited capacity of Namibia to produce renewable energy for its industrial purposes has increased its overreliance on imported electricity, fossil fuels, and natural gas. Von (2018) states that electricity imports account for half of Namibia’s energy supply. The electricity supply industry and intergovernmental agreement between Namibia and South Africa have significantly supported local and regional economic activities. The active trade of electricity supplies 789.5 MW to the nation (Von, 2019). Namibia has also used its fossil fuel reserves for energy production. According to Von (2019), uranium and natural gas are widely used for industrial purposes in the nation. As one of the largest global uranium producers, the nation has deduced strategies to harness electricity to meet its industrial demand. Overall, Namibia relies on imported electricity, uranium, and natural gas to support energy demand for its commercial development at the local and regional levels.
Potential Limitations of Energy Resources
Namibia’s current energy resources have limitations due to vulnerabilities to disruptions to imported electricity and environmental concerns. Additionally, the available renewable sources have a low output that fails to meet industrial, household, and infrastructure demand. According to Von (2018), imported electricity is costly due to fluctuations in weighting tariffs and frequent disruptions that affect industrial operations. The nation’s dependence on fossil fuels is finite and contributes to environmental degradation. Moreover, despite its contribution, Namibia’s current hydropower capacity is limited. The availability of water resources is a key constraint, as Namibia is a semi-arid country with limited river systems. The Kunene River is Namibia’s primary source of hydropower, and the water flow can vary depending on climatic conditions (Von, 2019). The government has also deduced strategies to boost its hydropower capacity. Consequently, environmental concerns such as potential impacts on ecosystems and water availability have affected the implementation of the projects. While Namibia’s current hydropower capacity may be limited, the country continues to evaluate the feasibility of exploring hydropower options sustainably. Further, renewable energy sources, though abundant, face challenges related to intermittency and storage (Amesho & Edoun, 2019). Renewable energy sources and supply investments will need robust infrastructure and advanced technologies. Namibia’s current energy resources have limitations that require imperative strategies to address energy needs sustainably.
Namibia finds itself at the crossroads of economic growth and energy demands, which demands strategic foresight and decisive action. The country’s demographic landscape adds a layer to this complex equation of meeting energy needs. For example, Namibia’s industries, from mining to manufacturing, are voracious consumers of energy, driving the need for increased capacity and efficiency. Additionally, Namibia’s quest for sustained economic development is intimately intertwined with the increasing demand for energy. The nation’s trajectory hinges on a delicate balance to meet the energy needs of a burgeoning economy with the imperative of sustainability. Overall, the quest for more energy is not merely a logistical challenge but an exploration of the nation’s potential and a commitment to shaping a future for its population.
Amesho, K. T., & Edoun, E. I. (2019). Financing renewable energy in Namibia: A fundamental key challenge to the sustainable development goal 7: Ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all. International Journal of Energy Economics and Policy, 9(5), 442-450.
Bobek, V., Moritz, J., & Horvat, T. (2019). Namibia’s triple challenge and its economic development. In Perspectives on Economic Development-Public Policy, Culture, and Economic Development. IntechOpen.
Von Oertzen, D. (2018). Economic impacts of the deployment of renewable energy technologies in Namibia. Konrad Adenaeur Stiftung.
Von Oertzen, D. (2019). State of the Namibian electricity sector, 2019. Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung.