HELSINKI – Namibia is seeking to deepen its existing bilateral relationship with Finland and work on a synergy that will transform waste into energy as a solution to the power supply shortage
One of Namibia’s biggest problems is invader bush on farmland and with such a huge biomass resource that could be used not only to generate electricity but also to produce animal feed during the drought season, the country has a lot of potential, says Namibia’s ambassador to Finland, Bonny Haufiku.Speaking at a dinner reception at his residence in Helsinki on Friday.
Nine African journalists, including one from Namibia, participated in a week-long tour of the Nordic country. They visited several companies and attended meetings with various experts in the renewable energy sector.The Finnish government organised the tour under the theme ‘Energy’ and welcomed participants from Namibia, Algeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria and Kenya.
“Namibia depends heavily on the energy sector and as a mineral exporting country, it needs a continuous power supply in growing the economy and providing jobs. Namibia is affected by bush encroachment on a massive scale, which could create new opportunities for the economy through the use of this resource for electricity generation.
“The de-bushing process therefore offers the potential to increase employment creation, agricultural productivity, energy supply and economic growth,” he said.
He expressed concern that bush encroachment, which severely reduces biodiversity and the formation of groundwater, also lowers agricultural productivity and livestock carrying capacity on farms, which Namibia depends on as a beef exporter to the European Union (EU).Haufiku said Namibia could learn from the Finnish mechanical and technology expertise in the area of renewable energy and develop solutions for the profitable use of biomass for electricity generation.
Finland is among the top five renewable energy-generating countries in the world, where electricity from renewable energy sources (RES) is promoted through a premium tariff. The tariff applies to electricity produced from wind, biomass and biogas. Additionally, investments in RES are supported through state subsidies.
Haufiku suggested that as a vast country, with a small population, Namibia needs to look into the viable and suitable energy options available.This could either be through forging partnerships with Finnish companies to explore wind, solar, wave and nuclear power, or any other affordable and environment friendly technology.
Some of the highlights since the embassy opened its doors in Helsinki in 2015 were visits from local business delegations representing the agriculture, energy, education, mining, and construction sectors of Namibia.
In the agricultural sector, Namibian business personalities explored ventures with Finnish companies in de-bushing businesses. Partners in Finland operate recycling facilities that turn animal-based raw materials such as leftovers from cattle products into energy production.
There is currently a huge need for fat for animal feed, biodiesel and the soap industry.This is one of the many ways in which the EU member can transfer skills and knowledge through ventures with Namibians, said Haufiku.
He said the embassy has put emphasis on two important objectives: education and training; and trade and investment.
While Namibia has embarked upon the Growth At Home strategy, the country must start to grow the economy by adding value to natural resources, “and that is exactly what Namibia can get from Finland,” according to Haufiku.
Pearl Coetzee, The Namibian