Energy and water are crucial aspects of NDP5: Economic Progression: Part 4

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Staff Reporter

Windhoek-The Fifth National Development Plan (NDP5), which was recently launched by President Geingob is the 5th NDP in the series of a total of seven National Development Plans that are to implement and achieve the objectives and aspirations of Namibia’s long-term vision, Vision 2030. In sequence, NDP5 will be the third five-year implementation vehicle towards Vision 2030 and will be implemented from the financial year 2017/18 up until 2021/22.

The NDP5 framework is organised around the four interconnected pillars that are founded on the principle of sustainable development, namely: economic progression; social transformation; environmental sustainability; and good governance. These pillars are aligned with Namibia’s commitment to eradicate poverty and inequality as outlined in Vision 2030, the Harambee Prosperity Plan (2016), and the Swapo Party Manifesto (2014).

Additionally, the pillars support the global and continental development frameworks to which Namibia is committed. These include Agenda 2030, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), The Paris Agreement (CoP21), African Union (AU) Agenda 2063 and SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP).

Within these contexts, Namibia commits itself to enhancing growth and economic diversification while addressing challenges that include a high degree of regulation and a mismatch between the skill levels in Namibia’s workforce and the skills demanded by the labour market.

NDP5 identifies five game changers that will move Namibia from a reactive, input-based economy towards a proactive, high performing economy. The game changers are: Increase investment in infrastructure development; Increase productivity in agriculture, especially for smallholder farmers; Invest in quality technical skills development; Improve value addition in natural resources; Achieve industrial development through Local Procurement.

Economic Progression:
Structural transformation through value-added industrialisation expansion and modernisation of physical infrastructure:
Infrastructure enables economic growth and is the bedrock for better living conditions. Energy, water, transport/ logistics, ICT, research and innovation are the vital force that supports structural transformation and value added industrialization. During the NDP5 period, sustainable investments in infrastructure will be prioritized and sequenced to support industrialization and export development.

Energy: Where we are
While nearly 75 percent of Namibians in urban areas enjoyed access to energy in 2015, only 24 percent of their fellow citizens in rural households had electricity in their homes. As a result, only 50.4 percent of Namibian households nationwide have access to electricity.
Lack of access to energy remains a critical barrier to poverty alleviation and industrialisation efforts. It is an expensive problem to solve. In 2015, 63 percent of the energy requirement in Namibia was imported from neighbouring countries. The maximum electricity demand is around 656MW while at most only 484MW is produced domestically.

Full capacity of local generation was not achieved due to climatic and economic factors such as drought, refurbishment of machines and intermittency of solar system. Use of renewable energy is still at a small scale and it is contributing only 19.5MW (solar photovoltaic power) to the grid. Energy demand is expected to reach around 755MW by 2022. The mining, water pumping, agriculture and construction sectors, together with urban growth are expected to be major drivers of energy demand.

Desired outcome
By 2022, Namibia has a sustainable mix of locally generated energy capacity of 755 MW to support household and industry development.

Challenges
There are many obstacles to delivering energy. These include: the vastness of the country; small size of the country’s power sector, the low load densities and long distances between major load centres. Moreover, the economic spending power of the majority of the rural population reduces the business case for private investment in this area.

Water: Where we are
As the driest country in sub-Saharan Africa, Namibia’s arid climate coupled with high evaporation rates has a great impact on water availability and reliability. Water scarcity continues to be a serious constraint in achieving the economic, environmental and social development objectives. With highly variable and unpredictable rainy seasons, the first priority is given to water for domestic purposes including livestock; and the second priority given to water for economic activities such as mining, industries and irrigation. Water demand in 2015 was estimated at about 334.1 million cubic metres per year and is projected to reach 583.4 and 771.7 million cubic metres per year by 2025 and 2030 respectively. Irrigation accounts for about 60 percent of water consumption and will remain the main consumer over the next ten years. Given the trend of migration, urban domestic water demand (including manufacturing and industry) is estimated to increase.

Desired outcome
By 2022, Namibia has a sustainable production and consumption of water resources resulting in improved access to safe drinking water for human consumption and for industry use. Each rural constituency will have water access of above 50 percent.

Challenges
Ageing water infrastructure and the development of the water infrastructure is one of the challenges which need to be addressed urgently. Furthermore, pollution of water courses and groundwater aquifers is a challenge that needs to be prevented to avoid contamination of potable water sources. The biggest challenge facing the country is to make significant improvements in water demand management and promote water saving measures that influence changes in customer behaviour. There is room to minimise water losses in pipelines, treatment facilities and distribution networks. Namibia’s four perennial rivers are located at the borders with neighbouring countries and form part of shared watercourses.

This makes it difficult for Namibia to fully access the watercourses for Namibia’s use.
Moreover, due to the erratic rainfall conditions, the river flows in the country’s interior is irregular and unreliable. For example, an important part of Namibia’s desert ecosystem is a phenomenon known as ephemeral rivers which flow for short periods of time following severe rainstorms. Historically, these rivers, which have been dammed, have been able to produce surface water. However, in times of drought, they do not exist at all and neither do the contribute to Namibia’s water supply or ecosystem.

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