The United Nations has identified 17 Sustainable Development Goals that we as humanity should be trying to achieve. All are noble, all are essential but some get more attention than others, especially in a country like Namibia.
Sadly, we cannot take access to food or the absence of poverty and access to education for granted. We focus on these goals as they concern life or death. However, if we as a continent are truly to rise, be a force to be reckoned with and not just exploited, we need to look at the long term and embrace achieving the Sustainable Development Goal no. 7. We need to become our own powerhouse.
Affordable and Clean Energy is essential to Namibia’s future and within the wider context to Africa and certainly earth’s future if we want it our way of life to continue as we know it. Namibia has always been a great custodian of its environment and ecological surroundings, going so far as to place it squarely within its Constitution and protect its precious surroundings in every activity it undertakes.
This needs to and does include the pursuit of affordable and clean energy. As our industrialisation continues to accelerate, with technology becoming more important and our daily lives are less agri-based, we put a lot more pressure on our environment. Clean energy is the future and Namibia needs to be at the forefront of making this transition. Our climate is perfectly suited for this, as is our sparsely populated nation.
Africa has shown great progress in the development of its solar energy markets over the recent years, with the continent experiencing a growth of over 1.8W of new solar installations, mainly driven by five countries: Namibia, Egypt, South Africa, Kenya and Ghana. It is great to be recognised for our hard work, investment and development of creating energy from the most renewable source we have, the Namibian sun!
However, this is not the only source of renewable energy: Hydroelectric power is another source of pride for our country. Continued development and investment in an alternative and renewable energy mix will lead us to sustainably becoming less dependent on fossil fuels and energy independent from our neighbouring countries. Something that every country should pursue.
Instead of merely paying lip-service to decreasing our carbon footprint, we can make it happen without adjusting our industrialisation ambitions or development of our economy as a whole. In fact, being a pioneer on the continent in renewable energy can give our economy a major boost and make Namibia a beacon and example for other developing nations.
With the right investment, education and training, we as Namibia with its natural resources will be able to achieve “affordable and clean energy”, thereby embracing the 7th Sustainable Development Goal. The sooner we achieve this, the sooner we can also monetize our knowledge of renewable energy development and use it as a pillar to grow our economy and strengthen our nation’s socio-economic standing.
We have been given all the tools we need; it’s sunshine, the vast open spaces, diminishing costs of solar power generation as well as a drive to create a knowledge-based society. The SDGs are all equally important but without embracing the 7th Sustainable Development Goal, we will never be the nation we want to be and need to be. Therefor we must embrace renewable energy to truly become the country we want to be and to be future-proof and climate resilient.