Source: US$45m programme to catalyse renewable energy projects launched | Herald (Top Stories)
Trust Freddy and Ivan Zhakata
The Government, in partnership with the United Nations country team (UNCT) and private sector players, has launched a US$45 million joint programme to catalyse investments in climate and sustainable energy projects for the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Zimbabwe.
This project, to be implemented by the Ministry of Energy and Power Development and its UN partners, who have already availed US$10 million while Old Mutual Investment Group is committing US$10m with the Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe (IDBZ) injecting US$1 million.
It will also help attract additional capital from the private sector and Old Mutual as Fund Manager is confident in mobilising additional resources in order to close the Renewable Fund at $45m.
This multi-million programme will be implemented by UN agencies including UNESCO, UNDP, UN Women, UNCDF and the Government, in partnership with Old Mutual, IDBZ, Zimnat and other local and international partners over a period of four years.
Speaking during the launch of the SDG fund UN Zimbabwe Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Edward Kallon the current energy challenges, coupled with climate challenges call for one unified solution — a rapid and extensive adoption of Renewable Energy technologies in the country.
“Zimbabwe, like any other country globally, is facing energy shortages, affecting the country’s productivity and general activities.
“In response to such a crisis, the United Nations SDG Fund sent out a call globally for the UN Country Teams to come together and figure out ways to assist Member States in solving this challenge among many others.
The process that led to this launch has been truly collaborative effort with the Government, the UN Development System and its UN Entities and other national stakeholders.
This comes at a time Zimbabwe and the region are facing serious energy challenges due to climate change.
“The overall aim of the Joint Programme we are launching today is to leverage private investments in order to support Renewable Energy (RE) projects for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Zimbabwe, namely Goals 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 13 and 17, and harnessing the cross-cutting nature of these goals to achieve the rest of the SDGs.
“ It will also contribute to NDS1 and the Zimbabwe UN Cooperation Framework commitments of economic development, energy access, climate action, women and youth empowerment, and capacity development in Renewable Energy for productive uses,” Mr Kallon said. Energy Minister Soda Zhemu said: “The fund proposes three main interventions and the establishment of a Renewable Energy Fund (REF), using the REF fund to deploy projects that address the majority of our SDGs with special focus on women and youth empowerment and capacity building and advocacy on renewable energy opportunities and uptake of the same.
“The purpose of this four-year joint programme is to accelerate investments in climate change mitigation and sustainable energy projects for the achievement of SDGs in Zimbabwe, and to maximise the development of local economic spin-off initiatives that can obtain as a result of access to renewable energy and ICTs.”
Government remained committed to working with progressive partners and investors who wished to invest in the energy sector.
“The UN family is one of such development partners who have stood with the Government in addressing the challenges in the energy sector as reflected by the ongoing UNDP energy offer project valued at US$1,5m which was launched in April this year in Bulawayo.
“Today we are launching a fairly bigger fund, the UNSDG Fund that will catalyse investments in climate and sustainable energy projects for the achievement of SDGs 5, 7, 9, 13 and 17 in Zimbabwe, for positive social benefits for communities.” The Minister said it was clear the country and the region at large were facing electricity supply challenges owing to limited investment in the energy sector hence the need for concerted efforts to curb electricity supply challenges.
The REF will also be funding small- and medium-size companies for the deployment of projects with both commercial returns and positive impacts in the communities in the RE value chain.
It has potential to substantially advance the country’s attainment of its SDGs, particularly in empowering rural off-grid communities in Zimbabwe, who are the most marginalised.
Old Mutual Zimbabwe chief executive Mr Samuel Matsekete urged all stakeholders to fund renewable energy projects and to create platforms that would act as catalysts to stimulate funding into renewable energy.
“Notwithstanding our efforts in the renewable energy space that I have briefly shared with you, we acknowledge that we cannot do it alone. Great partners make great progress possible.
“As a proudly African business, we know that real transformation and progress cannot be achieved alone. It can only be achieved by people who are bonded by a shared purpose and a collaborative spirit.”
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Mr Raphael Faranisi said the launch of the programme was a fulfilment to the nation’s long desire to have a practical means in responding to climate change through mitigation and adaptation actions.
“While efforts at mobilising global climate finance were in vain, we had hoped that a long-drawn planning on climate finance and technology to support our country’s climate response efforts would be realised.
“Our desire in our policy measures is to help bridge the gap between grid electricity demand and supply, reduce the vulnerability of underserved areas.
“It is in this context that the launch of this fund provides a practical answer towards meeting the energy access goals for our communities,” he said.
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), sub-Saharan Africa has the lowest energy access rates in the world.
Electricity reaches only about half of its people, while clean cooking only one-third and it is estimated that around 600 million people lack electricity and 890 million cook with traditional fuels of which Zimbabwe shares the same scenario.
Last week, another three-year programme was launched to assist vulnerable rural communities in adapting and building climate resilient multiple use water and renewable energy infrastructure.
Zimbabwe continues to receive financial assistance from the international community due to the engagement and re-engagement policy initiated by the Second Republic.
Meanwhile, Public Service Commission (PSC) secretary Dr Tsitsi Choruma yesterday said the National Domestic Biogas Programme was successfully developing a market-driven domestic biogas sector with over 150 biogas digesters having been constructed so far.
Biogas is a possible and alternative form of energy that can substitute traditional fuels like firewood and dried cow dung and is suitable for rural household cooking, heating and lighting. In a statement, Dr Choruma said there had additionally, been a gradual increase in the number of biogas plants in the country.
She said as one of its priorities, the National Development Strategy1 (NDS)1 would aim to ensure access to modern energy through, among other things, green energy.
Dr Choruma said Government would leverage on biogas digesters and lithium to ensure provision of renewable sources to the citizenry is a reality, including in particular through the civil servants solar project.
“As an undertaking of a huge magnitude, the project will be implemented in phases. The addition of solar equipment provision to the basket of benefits is in line with Government’s steadfast objective to cushion its employees and improve their conditions of service through the augmentation of monetary benefits with non-monetary incentives.
“Government is committed to ensuring that conditions of service for all civil servants are enhanced and remains willing to continually engage with workers’ representatives within the context of the National Joint Negotiation Council, as it (Government) seeks to respond to the needs of the civil servants,” she said.
Dr Choruma said employee motivation was a critical consideration for Government within the pursuit of NDS1 and Vision 2030 imperatives.