Erongo Governor Cleophas Mutjavikua believes over-regulation of water and energy services presents a developmental challenge for the mineral-rich region.
Speaking at the opening of a two-day shareholders meeting of the regional electricity distributor, Erongo Red, that ends in Swakopmund today, Mutjavikua said easing regulatory restrictions on water and energy supply would be beneficial for the country and the region.
He said such de-regulation would allow mines to venture into energy and water supply and thus lessen the burden on government by generating, for example, solar energy projects that can contribute to the power national grid.
“Thus we need to come up with strategic interventions for over-regulation of the energy industry and water supply. That is one of the most serious bottlenecks if we want to implement the Harambee Prosperity plan,” he said.
The purpose of the summit is to find solutions for energy supply and to plan for the future, as well as to share achievements and challenges faced by the region in its quest to meet the electricity requirements of its clients in the region.
The meeting is attended by various councillors and chief executive officers of Swakopmund, Walvis Bay, Henties Bay, Omaruru, Karibib, Usakos, as well as officials from Nampower and the Electricity Control Board (ECB).
According to Mutjavikua, the Erongo Region wants to generate water for the mines, but cannot do so due to current restrictions, as in the desalination of water. “We don’t want to overthrow any regime or try to cause regime change. All we want is for things to change so that investors can come on board and assist us to provide enough water and in the same vein invest in solar energy,” he said.
Governor added that the region does not have perennial rivers and most of the available water is salty and brackish, unlike other parts of the country. “In order for us to extract the salt we need electricity. That is why we’re lobbying stakeholders, such as Namwater and Nampower, to address these bottlenecks,” he said.
The governor added that the Namib Desert is a perfect environment for solar energy that could be fed into the national grid to support desalination plants that in turn will generate enough water for the mines. Mutjavikua also noted with concern that the implementation of such large-scale projects present huge challenges.
“Many investors have pointed out that they are being discouraged to such an extent that they don’t come back. They are citing over-regulation as a serious problem and this needs to be addressed. We need more water and to set up more water desalination plants is the solution, which in turn needs electricity,” he explained.
Mutjavikua said when Rossing applied to set up a desalination plant, they were not granted the necessary permission. Currently, he says, that Swakop Uranium also wants to do the same, but powered by solar energy, which can also in turn be fed into the national power grid.
“Therefore shareholders here today should rally behind such projects by coming up with proper solutions that can be presented to government to ease over-regulation,” Mutjavikua said.