By: Selma Taapopi
Members of parliament have called for the implementation of a concrete law and clear-cut rules regarding the Local Content Policy. This is to prevent potential corruption in light of recent oil discoveries and the emergence of green hydrogen.
The policy, once established, will ensure that Namibian businesses have priority in the mining and petroleum sector. The key focus is to enable local businesses to participate throughout the entire value chain of the country's mining and petroleum sector.
Member of parliament and deputy leader of the Landless People’s Movement, Henny Seibeb has raised concerns of possible corruption in the green hydrogen and oil industry. Seibeb stated that the government is not clear in drafting the local content policy regarding how to address corruption in the oil and green hydrogen sector. He called on the ministry to consider factors such as compliance, corruption risk, favouritism, and conflict of interest when drafting the local content policy.
He also called for the establishment of an agency to act as one-stop centre, solely focused on oil and gas, and regulate the sector. Seibeb made these comments while discussing local content policy during an informational session with the Ministry of Mines and Energy.
“We don’t want to talk about policies at this stage. We want a concrete law, Minister. Now the other one, apart from that, is that we are being told this story that it is a capital-intensive industry, and you need highly trained and skilled people. I think that is another terminology that is being used deliberately for corruption in this country and for recycling jobs. Why do I say so, let me start, the first one, the corruption risk, in your policy that was tabled now, I did not see how you are going to deal with the question of corruption, except only to mention a sentence here and there” remarked Seibeb.
Similarly, the Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) and member of Parliament, Vipuakuje Muharukua, shared the sentiments of Seibeb. He also emphasised the need for Namibian lawyers to be involved in drafting contracts that enable maximum beneficiation of local content for Namibians, pending substantive legislation.
Muharukua asked when a substantive law should be expected before the country begins actual production, stating that local businesses should also benefit from each phase of finding and exploration.
Furthermore, Elma Dienda, a member of parliament from the PDM, informed the Mines Ministry that the procurement environment does not provide sufficient opportunities for small and medium-sized businesses to participate as suppliers in the country's mining and petroleum sector. Dienda noted that submission requests, such as providing a good standing certificate and proof of tax payment to NamRA, make it difficult for upcoming businesses to participate.
In response, the Minister of Mines and Energy, Tom Alweendo, agreed to the need for legislation regarding local content. Alweendo stated that the government needs to act swiftly to adopt the policy and subsequently into a law.
As to how the ministry will tackle corruption in the sector, Alweendo stated that corruption is not caused by the absence of laws but by the character of individuals.
The draft local content policy is also expected to be tabled in the National Assembly for further deliberation.