Namibia's minister of mines and energy Tom Alweendo has underlined the need for government and private sector to collaborate in order to address socio-economic development challenges.
Alweendo said this when he launched the B2Gold Otjiko Solar Farm in the Otjozondjupa region.
The solar plant will serve as a sustainable power solution as B2Gold works to improve economic returns, reduce impacts on the environment, and could potentially be a funding source for community development.
It is reported that last year B2Gold signed a memorandum of understanding with Total Namibia, which will commit two cents of every litre of heavy fuel oil (HFO) sold to B2Gold Namibia to the Namibian Chamber of Environment.
"The expected saving on the consumption of HFO is in the region of 20%. This will not only reduce costs, but will also significantly reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions into our pristine skies," he noted.
"This clearly shows that B2Gold is setting the mining industry standards for sustainable approaches to livelihood development, health, conservation and education," the minister said.
Socio-economic development agenda
"As part of our 5th National Development Plan (NDP5) and the Harambee Prosperity Plan, we recognise energy as priority infrastructure needed for our socio-economic development agenda," said Alweendo.
"The programme is endorsed by the ministry of education, the Namibian Institute of Educational Development, and the University of Namibia," he noted.
According to Alweendo, his ministry finalised the national renewable energy policy last year, which is intended to provide the necessary thrust to renewable energy development, to serve as a clear signal to the commitment of a clean energy future powered by renewable energy sources.
"The policy is to enable access to modern, clean, environmentally sustainable and affordable energy for all Namibians for our short and long-term development goals," he said. Read more: REFIT programme marks milestone
"This will then assist us in climbing the development ladder, empowered by access to energy at the levels that facilitate engagement in productive activity," the minister added.
Reducing reliance on importing electricity
"As part of our NDP5, we have a target of 750MW of locally generated energy by the year 2022, which is necessary for us to reduce our over-reliance on the imports of electricity from our neighbours," Alweendo explained.
It is reported that nine projects in various towns across the country have also connected to the national grid, adding a total of 45MW of clean energy.
"The facility will further add another 5MW of electricity generation towards sustainable energy generation. The solar plant, which is one of the largest installations in Namibia, will deliver positive economic, environmental and social impacts that are likely to outlive the life of the mine", he said.