ReconAfrica: Shifeta assures of environment safety
ReconAfrica: Shifeta assures of environment safety

ReconAfrica: Shifeta assures of environment safety

Cindy Van Wyk


Environment minister Pohamba Shifeta has assured Namibians that government will not allow any activities in the country that have a significant negative impact on the environment.

He was speaking to Namibian Sun from Glasgow, Scotland, where he is currently attending the United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26.

Shifeta was referring to questions about Canadian oil and gas company ReconAfrica, which is engaged in the exploration and development of oil and gas in Namibia and Botswana.

Although the project is only at the exploration stage, there is concern about the potential environmental effects of future extractive exploits.

“Whatever amount of money is there, whatever economic activity, however huge it is, and it contributes the economy, we cannot sacrifice the future of our country and that is assurance I give to Namibians.”

Shifeta pointed out that the protection of the environment is enshrined in the Namibian Constitution.

“So, everything we do, every policy we may come up with, every law and legislation made, including the customary law and the common law that is already in existence, has to be measured against our constitution, our Supreme Law.”

He added that there is no way any government official would allow any activity that contradicts the constitutional protection of the Namibian environment.


Shifeta said ReconAfrica received an exploration licence from the mines and energy ministry.

“The environmental commissioner, under the environment ministry, has the duty to clear any listed activity, to give the green light whether to go ahead or not.”

He said there are yardsticks that must be measured to make sure that this activity is not damaging the environment significantly.

Shifeta added that the Environmental Management Act is very clear and any aggrieved party who feels that there is damage to the environment is free to follow the steps in the law.

“They have to appeal. And that appeal can even go up to the Supreme Court. So, you will get attention through this process.”

Long process

The minister said no activities that harm the environment will be allowed by the environmental commissioner, and added that he can also appoint an independent consultant to do an Environmental Impact Assessment if there are any doubts about this assessment.

“So, in the case of ReconAfrica, from our side as a ministry that has to protect the environment, we will not be able to abdicate our responsibility.”

Shifeta further stressed that people need to understand that with regards to ReconAfrica, drilling for oil and gas has not started yet, adding that the company is currently just gathering data.

He said the three boreholes they have made is to collect data and then do an assessment to decide whether there is oil or gas, after which they will still need another Environmental Clearance Certificate (ECC) to clear exploration.

“And even after that stage of determining that they have viable oil or gas and that they want to mine, they still need to get another ECC.”


Namibian Sun 2023-05-29

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