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Namibia can become a green energy exporter, says first lady | CNN Business




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With Europe seeking alternatives to Russian energy, the European Union has set a goal produce 11 million tons of green hydrogen and import another 11 million tons by 2030.

Green hydrogen (hydrogen produced with renewable energy) is touted as a clean alternative to fossil fuels that could power heavy industry and transportation. EU officials said this summer that they hoped to reach a deal to help Namibia develop its green hydrogen sector. The southern African nation is set to open the continent’s first green hydrogen production plant in 2024operated by the French electricity company HDF Energy.

Namibian First Lady Monica Geingos has served on policy advisory boards in her country and has championed gender equality. CNN’s Melissa Mahtani spoke to Geingos at Goals House during the UN General Assembly in New York last week and emailed additional questions about Namibia’s progress in green energy and the role of women in the economic future of the country. country.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Namibia’s first hydrogen power plant is expected to be operational in 2024, and there is also a potential plan to partner with the EU on green hydrogen. Where do you see sustainable energy in the future of the country’s business landscape?

Geingos: It is clear that Namibia’s green hydrogen plans go beyond domestic energy self-sufficiency. It is also about intra-African trade, as Namibia has the opportunity to export clean energy to regional energy markets. In addition, there is an opportunity to export clean (energy) to a neighboring country (South Africa) which is also Africa’s largest carbon contributor.

Namibia has also been identified as a strategic enabler of the European Union’s decarbonisation agenda, facilitating our ability to export energy to Europe. What this means is that Namibia can move beyond the traditional relationship of being an aid recipient to become a strategic trading partner.

Among many other benefits, I am excited about the vibrant economic mobilization that the corporate sector will benefit from as (Namibia) will be able to deploy its own resources for private sector investment, which also allows for greater risk appetite for the business sectors. than foreign investors traditionally. Get away of.

You were a businesswoman before becoming first lady. How did that experience prepare you for this role?

Geingos: My career was in capital markets, corporate finance, and private equity, so it prepared me well to work under pressure, stand my ground, and handle difficult conversations. It also helped me develop a strong ethical compass that is helpful in navigating gray areas and understanding no-go areas.

What barriers are still in place when it comes to elevating women to positions of power, especially in business settings?

Geingos: Namibia’s legislative and policy framework related to gender equality is very progressive. Barriers are invisible and refer to how women are perceived, talked about, treated and made to feel when they are in positions of influence or trying to climb the ladder.

In essence, our way of thinking is not as progressive as our laws. While public sector leadership has not reached gender parity, it leads the private sector, which is still far behind in ensuring gender equality. This is an indicator of the progress made in certain sectors, but also a confirmation of how much work remains to be done.

the African Continental Free Trade Area entered into force last year, of which Namibia is a party. How important is it that women take the lead in that and have a seat at the table when important decisions are negotiated?

Geingos: It is vitally important that women take a seat at any table where important decisions are being made, as taking such great opportunities without diverse thinking would be to the detriment of society.

Women bring differentiated thinking and ability to the table. It makes no sense to sit at the table and make important decisions excluding a part of your intellectual capital. The easier movement of goods and people to facilitate intra-African trade has risks for women that need to be managed (eg human trafficking), but also offers significant opportunities. There are bespoke pockets of capital being targeted at women entrepreneurs that can be applied in pursuit of expanded market opportunities, creating exciting times for women entrepreneurs.



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