Namibia: Statement by President Geingob at the EU-Namibia Business Forum

Brussels — Director of Ceremonies;Honourable Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah; Commissioner Jutta Urpilainen; Honourable Ministers; Ambassador Mekondjo Kaapanda-Girnus; Distinguished Industry Leaders and Panellists; Ladies and Gentlemen; Members of the Media

I am excited to stand before you to witness the evolution of a remarkable partnership between Namibia and the European Union. This partnership, grounded in the common interests of forging a more equitable and sustainable world, seeks to deepen our cooperation and broaden our areas of mutual collaboration as we both seek to construct sustainable industrial clusters in our respective jurisdictions. In the pursuit of a greener and cleaner future, both Namibia and the European Union share a deep and practical commitment to engender a just energy transition.

A clean energy eco-system requires more mineral resources than one that primarily relies on fossil fuels. The International Energy Agency estimates that to limit global warming to 1.5 Degrees Celsius, the Clean Energy investment needed by the end of this decade results in a 400% increase in demand for critical minerals. A typical electric car requires six times the mineral inputs of a conventional car and an offshore wind plant requires 13 times more mineral resources than a similarly sized gas- fired plant. Namibia is willing to rise up to the challenge.

Ladies and gentlemen,

This is the backbone upon which a key pillar of Namibia’s partnership with the European Union rest on. As we embark on this journey, we recognize the importance of securing a sustainable supply of critical raw materials, such as lithium, cobalt and rare earth elements. Resources that Namibia possesses in abundance.

Among us, we have Andrada Mining that is looking to exploit deposits of Lithium and associated minerals that could well be more than 138 million tonnes. We also have Broadmind Mining with a maiden inferred resource of 570 million tonnes of light rare earths. These materials are essential for achieving our green and clean energy objectives and are in high demand across other industrial sectors, from aerospace to electronics and health.

I am pleased to learn that the companies referred to earlier are in partnership with their EU counterparts and are willing to go one step further to add value to those minerals in Namibia, be it in the form of making battery precursors or permanent magnets.

Namibia’s economy is intricately linked to the extraction and processing of minerals for export, contributing significantly to our GDP and foreign exchange earnings. However, we are no longer going to export raw minerals. Together with our partners from Europe, we are dedicated to improving the sustainability of our extractive industry and developing local processing, refining, recovery, and recycling capacity in Namibia. This approach has the potential to underpin sustainable,clean, and inclusive economic growth, while also fostering domestic resource mobilization, economic diversification, and deeper linkages to the broader economy.

The collaboration with the EU is aligned with our National Development Plans, including Vision 2030, our National Industrial Policy, Growth at Home Strategy, the SADC Protocol on Industry, and the Mineral Beneficiation Strategy for Namibia. The Namibian Government has adopted the Harambee Prosperity Plans I and II to accelerate implementation and impact of the aforementioned plans and strategies. Securing access to these critical resources is not just an economic endeavour, but also a strategic security imperative for the world’s aspirations in delivering on green and clean energy objectives.

In the development of this new industry, the Namibian Government is committed to a shared partnership that is transparent. Namibia is committed to a partnership with business that is anchored in the rule of law and our practice of Effective Governance, buttressed by robust processes, systems and institutions.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The European Union recognizes renewable hydrogen as a critical and necessary ingredient to decarbonize hard to abate sectors, such as heavy industry and transport. Therefore, Namibia is ready to partner with the European Union meet its goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. By 2030, according to the REPowerEU, the European Union estimates that it will require 20 million tons of clean hydrogen, half of this has been earmarked for imports from trusted jurisdictions, such as Namibia.

Namibia is taking the necessary steps to establish itself as a renewable energy hub in Sub-Saharan Africa. Our ambitious Harambee Prosperity Plan II (HPPII) emphasizes the role of renewable hydrogen and ammonia as key enablers for our post Covid-19 pandemic economic recovery. To implement this strategy, the Government of the Republic of Namibia established the Green Hydrogen Council to coordinate the development of the renewable hydrogen industry.

We are focussing on these sectors because Namibia is endowed with year-round sunlight, proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, and abundant wind power resources. These endowments provide a strong foundation for Namibia to become an exporter of a diverse portfolio of clean energy products. The production and export of renewable hydrogen and its derivatives, coupled with energy efficiency, electrification, and direct use of renewable energy, will offer Namibia the opportunity to achieve energy security. It also provides a solid foundation upon which to establish new clean industries.

Simultaneously, it presents an opportunity to diversify our economy, attract foreign investments, and create jobs. In collaboration with team Europe, the Namibian Government has mobilised more than 4.2 million Euros of donor funding to establish the Namibian Green Hydrogen Program, which is designed to embolden public sector capacity to bring the goals and objectives of the Namibia’s Synthetic Fuels Strategy into effect.

A Strategic Partnership Roadmap has now been concluded and identifies concrete actions for cooperation in these key areas. A dedicated Sub- Committee has been established to monitor the partnership’s implementation and to report as per Article 8 of the Political Dialogue between the EU and Namibia. This dialogue is a clear indication of the goodwill that exists between our people and a recognition that when we move as one, we stand a better chance to respond to the existential risks posed by climate change.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Namibia enjoys a meaningful trade surplus with the EU, mainly because of trade with items from the primary sector of our economy, namely frozen fish, unrefined copper, diamonds, uranium, cobalt, zinc, fresh grapes and charcoal. This means that we already know how to hold hands and we know how to do business for our shared prosperity. Therefore, we gather here to deliberate further on how we can expand and transform the goods and services, which underpin our commercial ties.

Namibia and the EU commit to start investing in new industries in Namibia that will result in a bustling secondary sector. On this occasion, more than 100 businesses have gathered from Namibia and the EU to answer that clarion call. Using Namibia’s natural bounty of renewable energy and access to desalinated water to manufacture clean molecules such as hydrogen and ammonia is indeed a value additive economic activity that will result in systemic flows of foreign direct investment, significant gross fixed capital formation, impactful employment creation and a diversification of our exports to the EU and the world.

Green hydrogen and ammonia are but the first contributions to the evolution of our economic structure. European companies like HyIron aspire to use Namibian green hydrogen to add further value to our own iron ore to manufacture Direct Reduced Iron (DRI) in Namibia.

This will result in yet another new export for Namibia, and importantly the abatement of millions of tons of carbon dioxide.

I am pleased to see that big shipping companies like Compagnie Maritime Belge have chosen Namibia as their key African hub and they intend to start using ammonia as a clean fuel for their shipping fleet by establishing a bunkering facility in Walvis Bay. Namibia’s entry into this lucrative new industry will meaningfully contribute to the tertiary sector of our economy.

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is apparent that we have gathered here today to truly transform the make-up of the commercial relationship that binds us. To put our aspirations into action, we must work on the integration of the critical materials and renewable hydrogen value chains, cooperate on leveraging Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Criteria.

We should mobilize funding for project development and private sector engagement, offer capacity building and skills development, cooperate on research and innovation, and align our regulations. In the process, we are transforming the Namibian and EU economies for the better.

The historic Namibia-EU partnership is not just about agreements and words; it’s about concrete actions. Kwameh Nkrumah once remarked, “Thought without practice is empty, practice without thought is blind.” The politicians have envisioned, it is now up to you, the business community to hold hands and to take practical actions to implement for our shared prosperity!

It is time to roll up our sleeves and get to work.

I thank you for your attention.