12 February 2007

Namibia: Getting Into Renewable Energy

AS electricity becomes more and more expensive, and with the threat of a power crunch, some local businessmen have teamed up with foreign investors to revive the renewable energy technology industry.

Introducing itself on Friday, Bravio Investments, trading as Solar Lighting and Appliances Company, announced that it would provide access to "affordable electricity services and appliances".

The company will specialise in generating electricity from wind, solar and municipal waste, and in the manufacturing of the necessary equipment.

Bravio Investments Group Chief Executive Officer Selias Soko said the company would initially start its operations in small towns and was currently focused on Okahandja, before spreading its wings across the country.

"It is in our scope of business expertise to empower local solar technicians with the knowledge and skills of manufacturing some of the products and systems by appointing them as regional technical distributors within the 13 regions of Namibia," he said.

The Mayor of Okahandja, Paul Damaseb, talking to The Namibian on the sidelines of the event, expressed interest in the solar energy idea and said it was a matter of having available resources for it to come to fruition.

According to the Ministry of Mines and Energy, renewable energy has not been popular and its development has been hampered due to lack of capacity in installation and maintenance of the technology, and also due to the high purchasing costs in the absence of local manufacturers.

Bravio Investments Chairman Dirk Conradie said his company had strategies in place to change Namibians' perception of renewable energy technology, like training and reducing the cost of buying the appliances.

"There is need to foster a culture of economic independence by internalising essential skills and embracing ground breaking initiatives.

Purposeful engagement is a rare process in developing economies.

We should be remembered by generations to come as leaders who had great vision and purpose by setting up a viable economic base when we invest in manufacturing companies," said Conradie.

The company will be working in conjunction with the Ministry of Mines and Energy, local authorities and the Polytechnic of Namibia.

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