Mines and energy minister Tom Alweendo said socio-economic development challenges will be addressed more successfully when there is an effective partnership between the government, private sector and Namibian citizens.

He said this when he officially inaugurated the B2Gold Otjiko Solar Farm in the Otjozondjupa region on Tuesday.

“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,” Alweendo said.

B2Gold has a sustainable educational programme that originated from the Colorado State University in the United States.

“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.

“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.

B2Gold last year 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.

Alweendo further stated that in terms of energy, Namibia has the world’s second-best solar resource, a significant amount of biomass, and an excellent wind regime.

“As part of our NDP5, we have a target of 750 megawatt (MW) 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,” he explained.

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”, said Alweendo.

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.

“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.

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