Our Ocean, Our Future

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Fifi Rhodes Having had the privilege to attend the recently concluded Angola-Benguella Regional Front Workshop in Swakopmund, many thoughts have been hounding me ever since. Power rationing is coming for certain. No one can rule it out. Can the Namibian nation afford to be held hostage over things that lie within their reach? Listening to them, what these local and international scientists are doing to safeguard our ocean is commendable. From fish, birds to even the movements of tortoises, everything can be accounted for. Movements of every species are recorded so that if things start looking abnormal they will be the first ones to know. There are some instances where they can only do things according to their ability. I, for instance never knew that there are so many toxins in the ocean. From sulphate, sulphide, methane, you name it. How it gets there needs some broad explanation but it is there, although it cannot be exploited for commercial gain because it comes in small quantities and it is spread over a wide area across the ocean bed. Where it comes from is now clear to me after digesting a lot of presentations on the subject. Now I also got mind-boggled on where the many sunken ships along the coastal waters went to and the many disasters they can cause while lying on the seabed. Most, if not all, of these huge sunken crafts with deck loads of oil and many other harmful implements are lying there without being salvaged. But my thoughts went further during the time and put some question marks on our diminishing power supply. Over two days we experienced some major blackouts that were caused by heavy lightning accompanied by rain. I was wondering why no one ever comes up with plans to generate a hydropower plant along the two strongest ocean currents, namely the Benguella and Agulhas down south. This indeed is a vital point to deliberate on and I asked myself where our science students from the two institutions of higher learning are. Why can’t they come up with innovative plans and act imaginatively? We are in the unique position of being likely beneficiaries of the essential changes to come because of our rich uranium reserves, but we need to think even deeper than that. There is much talk of the wonderful possibilities of hydropower that can be constructed along the mighty Congo River but it seems so far away. The only viable possibilities are the Epupa and Poppa, but this has landed in the political pressure cooker – not to be touched. We have two huge streams of water flowing close inshore on both our coast ends: the Benguella and the Agulhas currents. These currents flow deep and wide at about 10 km per hour. I understand that the huge currents can propel turbines at an acceptable speed to generate electricity. These currents have over 1 000 times the density of air or wind. For sure it was these great currents that made me think: why can’t it be harnessed to our benefit? It would make us the most energy rich country on earth, as the number of potential generating stations is great. Let us put our imagination together to harness this vast inexhaustible renewable resource that could give us energy.