Source: Energy Capital & Power

Serving as a multi-disciplinary strategic advisory firm specializing in natural resources law and policy, RichAfrica Consultancy creates collaborative thought leadership platforms through which public-private partnerships can be facilitated. Energy Capital & Power spoke with CEO  Ndapwilapo Selma Shimutwikeni about prioritizing sustainability in the oil and gas sector ahead of first production and ensuring resource extraction benefits society as a whole through value-adding commercial relationships and industries. 

What is the nature and scope of your role in Namibia’s energy sector?

I use my expertise in energy – more specifically, in oil and gas and broader sustainability issues – to offer valuable insights into the business landscape. My team and I help find reliable local partners to ensure Namibians play a role in the development of the energy sector. We also serve as a bridge between the public and private sector. The sustainability of evolving extractive industry sectors (including mining) depends on public and private sector collaboration. This involves sensitive issues about how resources can benefit society as a whole. Our work is centered on identifying synergies, facilitating discussions and sharing lessons and best practices related to sustainable development. In 2016, I played a key role in drafting the National Energy Policy. As the lead consultant for upstream and downstream oil and gas, I believe that the end product is a robust statement to guide our nation forward in the event of a discovery – this was done before the oil discoveries in 2022. We also proposed the establishment of a sovereign wealth fund similar to that of Norway. We explored the participation of Namibians in the industry, capacity building and conducting workshops with key stakeholders. The fund aims to set aside revenue for future generations and utilize it to mitigate financial shocks that may arise during the process of balancing the economy.

How do you see renewables playing into Namibia’s energy mix?

Our focus primarily lies on traditional renewable energy such as solar (which is not new to Namibian households) and wind, alongside our main areas of expertise in the oil and gas industry and traditional power sector. In terms of our industrialization needs, it’s important to note that the contracts for importing power from South Africa and Zambia are nearing their expiration. Currently, around 50-60% of our energy needs are met through imports. Our current reliance on imported oil and gas resources places pressure on our energy security. To achieve self-reliability, we must capitalize on available resources and leverage what we have in order to become more self-sufficient.

What is your vision of an effective local content policy?

Namibia’s emerging extractive industries as a whole need to improve their view on the true meaning of local content. Local content goes beyond paying royalties and taxes, or awarding equity in companies to local partners. It involves the creation of value and value-adding commercial relationships, and ensuring that Namibians contribute their goods and services to the oil and gas value chain. Local content means more than owning blocks – it means having a stake in the industry’s management, employment and supporting sectors, be it logistics, transportation, security services, catering, or any other aspect of the industry’s ecosystem. Local content ensures that Namibians are directly involved and benefit. Local content is the key to unlocking the potential of the oil and gas sector for all stakeholders involved.

How can investors work with RichAfrica Consultancy to participate in Namibia’s new energy sector developments?

The energy sector is undergoing a remarkable transformation and we are thrilled to be part of it. Angola’s proximity and geology have always hinted at the presence of reservoirs in Namibia, and now they have been confirmed thanks to the work led by TotalEnergies and Shell. Namibia offers a conducive business environment and a strategic location in the southern region, backed by world-class infrastructure. We can build on our experience in the mining sector and other industries to leverage our existing capabilities. We know the business landscape and the opportunities it presents, and we offer guidance that matches the changing scenario. We have access to potential partners who seek local content and who have been carefully vetted. Through our strategic partnerships, RichAfrica has created an ecosystem that supports and facilitates investment in Namibia. We make it easy for investors to enter the country and succeed.

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