By Eveline De Klerk
Walvis Bay — Founding President Sam Nujoma says the Atlantic Ocean is Namibia's gateway to accelerate food security and become a major player in green technological advancement, simultaneously addressing the country's water shortages.
Nujoma said this on Friday when he commissioned the desalinated seawater bottling plant at the University of Namibia Henties Bay campus.
The plant was established by Unam's Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology and the Sam Nujoma Campus in partnership with the United Kingdom-based Royal Academy of Engineering, who contributed N$875 000, while Unam provided N$350 000.
The bottling unit produces bottled drinking water with an extended shelf life due to ozone treatment of desalinated seawater.
This, according to Nujoma, is a clear testimony that Namibia has the capacity to exploit seawater for both agricultural purposes and human consumption.
"The commissioning of the bottling facility should set a precedence for coastal towns to take the lead in the desalination approach for portable water supply and agricultural purposes. This will change our focus from the regions with perennial rivers as the only hope for food security to the coastal seemingly dry regions," he said.
He added all stakeholders should collectively aim to tap into the blue ocean economy and should take note that the Atlantic Ocean is crucial for economic growth and food production.
"I have always been a firm believer that we can make our desert green, and I am certain it can be achieved if we set our minds to it. If it was achieved in other countries, why not here? Your commitment is proof that a lot can be achieved if we apply our minds to it and adopt a smart approach to challenges," Nujoma said while applauding Unam for the initiative.
Also speaking at the event, assistant pro-vice chancellor Frank Kavishe explained the desalination plant, operated by solar energy, uses reverse osmosis technology to produce potable water at the rate of three cubic meters per hour.
The desalinated water serves two purposes: for irrigation and to support desert agriculture, as well as to provide water for human consumption.
"Apart from human consumption, this water could also be transported by pipe to farms and provide drinking water for animals," he said.
He then explained both the desalination plant and the water bottling unit are relatively small in size because they are pilot projects meant to demonstrate the wide range of possibilities that Namibia has if it could utilise its vast water resources along its coastline that runs for about 1 500km.
"The threat of water scarcity due to adverse effects of climate change is very real. Yet, the solution for this problem lies in our fingertips. The relevant stakeholders could invest in seawater desalination," he said.