Lüderitz, a town in southern Namibia where the harsh desert meets the pale ocean, has previously benefited from diamonds and fishing booms but now struggles with high rates of unemployment and aging infrastructure.

A proposed green hydrogen project is set to be “the third revolution of Lüderitz,” says Mr. Balhoa, a member of the town council. He hopes that the project will train and employ local people, or “Buchters” as they affectionately call themselves – bringing down the town’s 55% unemployment rate. “For a town that’s really been struggling economically over the past 10 or 15, maybe longer, years, this is something that people are really very excited about,” he says. The project will be based near the town in the Tsau ||Khaeb National Park, and ultimately produce around 300,000 tonnes of green hydrogen per year. In simple terms, renewable energy from the sun and wind will be used to separate hydrogen molecules from desalinated water. The firm says the four years of construction are likely to create 15,000 direct jobs and 3,000 more during full operations – and that 90% of them will be filled by locals.

Mr. James Mnyupe is the Namibian government’s presidential economic advisor and hydrogen commissioner. He explains that Lüderitz’s location is ideal because of the extensive solar and wind resources and the proximity to the ocean, both as a water source and a port. “The idea is to turn Namibia into not just a green hydrogen hub, but into a synthetic fuels industry powerhouse,” he says.