The Year of Revival: An energy perspective

President Hage Geingob has dubbed 2023 as The Year of Revival. The undertones of the suggested theme connote an improvement in the condition, strength and/or fortitude of our small but mighty nation.

With an expected N$500 billion in foreign direct investment in the near future and beyond, Namibia’s heralded revival is to be ushered in by the tourism sector, green hydrogen undertakings and the discovery of oil deposits with the potential for commercial viability.

The country’s energy strategy has undoubtedly become a media darling. Our resources are after all, the proverbial goose that lays the golden eggs. It is therefore worth analysing our energy strategy as the Launchpad for our revival.

A United Nations Energy Progress Report published in 2022 cites an estimated 568 million people who live without access to electricity, with Africa increasingly being the least electrified region in the world. In Namibia, over 300,000 households see their energy needs wholly underserved. 

Even though the Ministry of Mines and Energy has set a target to electrify every Namibian household by 2040, the reality is grim considering the high unit costs of electrifying low density populations. Namibian technocrats, policymakers and other stakeholders are therefore presently engaged in implementing an energy strategy that has the potential to catapult the country into substantial economic and political leverage.

Our energy efforts require us to be sober-minded. I recommend the following points of consideration to this effect.

Who benefits?

The Namibian Constitution vests the ownership of oil and gas resources in the State, to be used productively on behalf of all Namibians. Therefore, an energy strategy powered by the country’s natural resources must, to the most reasonable extent possible, bear meaningful fruit for all. Attributable to industrialisation and its accompanying electrification needs, Namibia has undergone significant changes since the country’s first post-independence Energy Policy of 1998. 

For this reason, our renewed energy focus is long overdue. However, it behoves us to be more deliberate and/or thorough about the ways in which all Namibians are expected to benefit from both renewable and non-renewable energy sources. The oft-cited one-liners about the prospect of job creation, with minimal specificity about the quality of stated jobs, might not be enough.

Understanding energy strategy beneficiaries also requires us to address the elephant in the room as it relates to the transparency of both public and private structures to effectively implement our ambitions.

The effort to understand precisely whose ‘revival’ is to be prioritised is best exemplified by the tension between micro and macroeconomic agents, respectively. That is, while government officials, well-positioned technocrats and oil multinational corporations are highly likely to derive private and professional gains from successfully lucrative energy efforts, ordinary Namibians are likely to get the short end of the stick, as always. To illustrate, ReconAfrica - a Canadian oil and gas company - is engaged in the upstream oil exploration process in the Okavango Basin, conducting airborne geophysical surveys since June 2022.

With the confirmation of an active petroleum site estimated to hold more than 30 million barrels of crude oil, indigenous communities like the San stand to experience significant changes in their human-land relations, should the exploration effort be fully realised. All in all, our energy strategy is a brilliant way to usher in a period of regeneration for Namibia. The rebirth and renewal of spirit that accompanies revival is a noble undertaking and a worthy collective aspiration.

However, haphazard, ill-defined approaches will cease to bear the revival that we have asserted to be working towards. It is equally important to ‘read the room’. In this case, reading the room is about forming honest judgements about our contextual capacity to revive our nation. For instance, the shortcomings revealed in our education system recently are anything but indicative of the prospect of revival.

Equally, with over half of Namibians still living in abject poverty, a hurried revival sentiment runs the risk of glossing over persistent challenges experienced by notable amounts of the Namibian population.

Revival is not a far-fetched goal for our country. Our durability, resolve and fortitude has been proven time and again. We are indeed on the horizon of a new dawn for Namibia, one with the potential to catapult us into our destiny among the stars.

In the grand scheme of energy affairs, we must commit meticulously to the painstaking work of “sweating the small stuff" such as insisting on favourable terms of trade, quality employment creation, electrification for rural households and the list goes on. Only then can we legitimately claim to be working towards a year of revival that truly leaves no Namibian behind.

* Bertha Tobias is a final-year International Relations (Hons) student and youth leader. Find out more on and connect on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.!

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Last modified on Wednesday, 25 January 2023 18:00

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