Namibia, France Academic Cooperation to Bolster Capacity Building for the Frontier Market

Namibia’s Ministry of Mines and Energy met with French tertiary institution Sciences Po on the sidelines of the Invest in African Energy Forum in Paris this week to discuss efforts to advance academic cooperation across the energy sector. Present during the meeting were Hon. Tom Alweendo, Minister of Mines and Energy, Namibia and H.E. Albertus Aochamub, Namibia’s Ambassador to France, Spain, Italy and Portugal; Sciences Po representatives including Vanessa Scherrer, Vice Minister for International Affairs, Professor Giacomo Luciani; and Mark Maloney, Executive Director and Vice Dean of the Paris School of International Affairs; as well as Carlos Bellorin, Associate Director IHS Markit and NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber.

During the meeting, both parties discussed the role academic inclusion, opportunity and training will play in driving Namibia’s energy agenda. Both the Ministry and Sciences Po outlined the need to advance capacity building in Namibia, with the organizations discussing opportunities for establishing a formal partnership to enable student exchange as well as high level workforce training and on-the-ground experience.

With Namibia’s energy sector seeing a surge of development following the discovery of three major oil and gas finds in 2022 and 2023 by Shell, Qatar Energy and TotalEnergies, as well as the kickoff of a large-scale green hydrogen development alongside various pilot studies across the renewable sector, the country is committed to advancing local content and capacity building, with particular emphasis on the training of energy sector-related personnel. The Ministry of Mines and Energy is focusing attention on human capital development in the hopes of establishing a competitive domestic market in-country and to avoid the overreliance on expatriates. As such, the Ministry is looking at improving global and regional relations with the aim of scaling up the domestic workforce on the back of partnerships.

“Energy is not a country or regional challenge: it is a global one. As Namibia, we find ourselves in a very good space with three recent oil discoveries in a short space of time and all of which are commercial. We have discovered oil in the middle of the energy transition and people are saying we need to focus on renewables. But apart from oil, we have resources such as green hydrogen, and so people ask us how we can embrace both. Is there contradiction? Not at all. The energy transition, we all agree, is important. But when people talk about a just energy transition, we understand that to mean a transition that is not in a straight line. It will be a journey,” stated Hon. Alweendo.

According to Scherrer, “We want to do more with Namibia. There are many global challenges that we must tackle and while we are engaged at heart, we realize that we can only address them with partners at the international level. We are looking at not only having students come to Paris but in sending students to Africa to study…”

The discussions during the Sciences Po-Ministry meeting were centered on these very objectives, with the Namibian ministry reiterating its focus on capacity building through global partnerships and Sciences Po emphasizing its goal of expanding its footprint and overall collaboration with the African continent. The potential partnership will see a reciprocal exchange whereby Namibian students will study in Paris while Sciences Po students will engage in internship and job shadowing in Namibia.

The discussions build on a previous partnership deal signed between the French institution and the University of Namibia whereby Namibian students will study abroad at Sciences Po as well as the institution’s introduction of its Masters in Energy program – covering every facet of the global energy sector. With a new deal on the table between Namibia and Sciences Po, student exchange and bilateral cooperation are expected to significantly improve.

“The Sciences Po institution building partnerships around Africa will be very important. At the chamber, we are committed to supporting these partnerships. We want to see Africans look global but act local. The Chamber fully supports this initiative, recognizing that energy will be a springboard for economic growth and expansion,” stated Ayuk.