The United Nations SDG-Fund has approved a USD45 million programme which aims to catalyse renewable energy investments in Zimbabwe for the acceleration of the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the country. The Southern African nation has largely been skirted by renewable energy investment due to political risk and investor skeptism, despite boasting massive renewable energy potential.
The UN SDG-Fund is contributing USD10 million to the programme whilst the Government of Zimbabwe through the Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe (IDBZ) and local partners including Old Mutual Investment Group (OMIG), Zimnat Asset Management and CABS are supporting the programme with a total of USD35 million.
The 4-year programme, which is expected to kick-off in April 2022, was jointly developed by UNESCO (Lead agency), UNWOMEN, UNDP and the Government of Zimbabwe. It aims to leverage private investments in order to support Renewable Energy based projects for the achievement of the SDGs in Zimbabwe.
This programme will innovatively target Sustainable Development Goals 5, 7, 8, 9, 13 and 17, whilst harnessing the cross-cutting nature of these goals to achieve the rest of the SDGs. The programme will also contribute towards the attainment of a number of key national priorities of the Government of Zimbabwe as spelt out in the National Development Strategy (NDS 1) and the United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (UNSDCF 2022-2026), by working towards national goals on economic development, energy access, climate action, women and youth empowerment, and capacity development in RE for productive uses.
Establishing a Renewable Energy Fund (REF) in Zimbabwe
The main intervention of the programme, centres on the establishment of an innovative inclusive & gender responsive Renewable Energy Fund (REF) that aims to leverage private sector and financial markets to finance RE projects that have a return on investment while achieving social impact for the acceleration of SDG achievement in Zimbabwe. The joint programme will therefore carry out a full-scale demonstration of concept of the REF instruments driving an innovative model of Accelerated Local SDG Achievement, and economic empowerment of communities through the transformational impact of introducing RE technology with new entrepreneurship opportunities, income and job creation, and improved quality of life and the environment.
In order to address capacity gaps in pre-investment, investment and post-investment stages, the Partnering UN Organizations through the JP will leverage partnerships with international RE-capacity building organisations and local money markets to increase access to funding by SMEs. By focusing not just on investing in projects, but also on building technically skilled manpower in STEM, RE and ICT fields, the programme will have a long-term impact towards increasing the uptake of RE in the country.
The active involvement of the United Nations system and Old Mutual Investment Group will provide credibility and a ‘halo effect’ thereby providing a wider stage and audience for the Fund’s activities. The Fund is expected to unlock over USD30 Million from the Zimbabwean financial markets, and regional and international development focus entities, the bulk of which would otherwise not typically be directed towards RE financing.