About 20 years after the finalisation of the first draft of the Earth Science Professions Bill, the country yesterday finally inaugurated the first-ever Geoscience Council.
The council was established by an Act or Parliament, which – after intense consultations with relevant stakeholders – was accepted and promulgated in April 2012 as the Geoscience Professions Act.
“The process has been long and challenging, but 20 years on the dream has become a reality and today we celebrate the hard work and dedication of the teams that were motivated to bring the Geoscience Council of Namibia into being,” said Deputy Minister of Mines and Energy Kornelia Shilunga during the inauguration at her ministry’s auditorium.
In terms of the Act, the council is tasked with promoting geoscience professions by providing a self-regulatory juristic body that confirms qualified geoscientists as having a recognised level of professional competence and subscribe to a code of professional conduct.
The council is further tasked with promoting the interests of geoscience as a profession and informing the Minister of Mines and Energy on matters of public interest. The Act also makes provision for the registration of geoscientists and for the specification of education, training and qualifications for the geoscience professions.
During the inauguration ceremony of the five council members, Shilunga also pointed out that the council would not make any demands on government coffers.
“The Geoscience Council of Namibia will be self-funding through the raising of funds from its registered members, as well as sponsorships from companies and organisations with geoscience activities,” Shilunga explained.
She added that geoscientists are fundamental to the economy and are indispensable to ensure the smooth operation of daily life.
“They are the ones who find new mineral resources, who make our mining operations work, who find underground water, who investigate the foundations of our infrastructure developments, such as roads, houses and dams and they are the ones who research the composition of the earth beneath our feet, so that it can be utilised in a sustainable manner for the benefit of all Namibians, the African society and the world at large,” Shilunga said.
Reflecting on the recent history of earth scientists, including geologists, geophysicists, geochemists, geo-hydrologists and geo-technicians, Shilunga expressed concern that they did not enjoy the same professional status as those who require registration to carry out their duties, such as engineers, lawyers, medical doctors and accountants.
“Although this was generally true for all earth scientists, the most affected groups were the ones employed by government. This was evident during the Wages and Salaries Commission exercise of the Namibian government when earth scientists were graded lower than their counterparts in other professions.
“At the time, the reason for this shortcoming was the absence of a body, which could recognise the geoscientists as professionals and this has remained true to date,” said Shilunga.
Also speaking at the inauguration, president of the Chamber of Mines of Namibia Kombadayedu Kampwanga noted that without geology mining would not exist. He added that geosciences can be used in the fight against poverty through the discovery of new mines and by extending the life of existing mines.
The five councillors introduced yesterday are expected to hold office for one year, commencing from August 1 and ending on July 31, 2017.