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SDG Fund to accelerate climate change mitigation, sustainable energy projects investments

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG Fund), a Joint Programme by the Government of Zimbabwe and the UN Country Team, launched in Harare today, is meant to accelerate investments in climate change mitigation and sustainable energy projects.

In his official address during the launch, Hon Zhemu Soda, the Minister of Energy and Power Development said the purpose of the 4-year Joint Programme (JP) 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.

โ€œThe programme will also contribute towards the attainment of a number of key national priorities of the Government of Zimbabwe as outlined in the National Development Strategy (NDSI) and the Zimbabwean Framework of the United Nations Sustainable Cooperation 2022-2026.

โ€œThis project will be funded to the tune of USD $45 Million ($10 Million from UNSDG-Fund, $35 Million potential co-financing and leverage from OMIG and other local finders),โ€ Hon Soda said.

The Fund proposes three main interventions:

1) Establishment of a Renewable Energy Fund (REF)

2) Using the REF fund to deploy projects that address the majority of our SDGs with a special focus on women and youth empowerment and

3) Capacity Building and advocacy on renewable energy opportunities and uptake of the same.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has the lowest energy access rates in the world. Electricity reaches only about half of its people, while clean cooking is only one-third. It is estimated that around 600 million people lack electricity and 890 million cook with traditional fuels which shares the same scenario.

According to recent statistics, Zimbabwe has an electricity penetration rate of 62% (34% grid-connected and 28% off-grid (ZIMSTATS National Census, 2022).

โ€œIt is worrisome that about 38% of the population do not have access to clean electricity services. This figure shows that there is still a lot of work to be done in order to achieve the national vision of attaining a large number of the rural population has limited access to modern energy services, With access levels of 20% while that for urban areas is around 89%. There is a need to increase access to modern energy in order to achieve universal access by 2030. As such, my Ministry welcomes the involvement of the United Nations Organisations, through the SDG Fund we are launching today, to ensure that there is a concerted effort to improve energy access levels for our citizens.,โ€ the Minister added.

Speaking on the same occasion, Ambassador Raphael Tayerera Faranisi, the Permanent Secretary for Environment, Climate, Tourism, and Hospitality Industry said the SDF is a fulfillment of the long desire to have a practical means of responding to climate change through mitigation and adaptation actions.

โ€œOur work on Climate Change in the last decade and search for practical solutions is coming to fruition. Looking back, we launched a range of climate policy measures with an emphasis on renewable energy. Our National Climate Policy has been backed by the National Climate Change Response Strategy, Low Emissions Development Strategy (LEDS), and Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) among others. These policies were timely submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in fulfilment of our international obligations, as well as providing solutions to our national challenges with emissions and the growing energy access gap.

โ€œIn the several Conference of Parties (COPs), and in particular after 2015, we joined the global community in Paris in re-affirming greenhouse gas emissions reductions of which renewable energy was a top priority. At the same time, and with the context of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we sought to enhance adaptive capacities which wherein we called for greater investment in renewable energy for local communities,โ€ Ambassador Faranisi said.

He said the main aim of the Joint-SDG Fund is to support countries as they accelerate their progress towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). SDG Goal 13 highlights the need to, โ€œTake urgent action to combat climate change and its impactsโ€. The Joint Programme aims to unlock public-private partnerships in the renewable energy sector and foster engagement between renewable energy project financiers and developers to effectively mitigate climate change. In doing so, the Programme is committed to forging partnerships that unlock and catalyse public and private capital for the SDGs at scale, promoting the economic empowerment of communities through the transformational impact of introducing renewable energy technology with new entrepreneurship opportunities, income and job creation, and improved quality of life and climate action.

His Excellency Edward Kallon, UN Zimbabwe Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator said the project proposal has been jointly developed by the Government of Zimbabwe, the UN system in Zimbabwe (namely UNESCO as lead, UNWOMEN, UNDP and UNCDF).

โ€œThis launch could not come at a better time. As we face energy challenges, creating the enabling environment for investment in renewable Energy will be key to the success of our green agenda. Zimbabwe, like any other country globally, is facing energy shortages, affecting the countryโ€™s productivity and general activities.

โ€œThe current energy challenges, coupled with climate challenges call for one unified solution โ€“ rapid and extensive adoption of Renewable Energy technologies in the country. 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. I am pleased to announce that after TWO years of hard work, we have a solid programme that we are here to launch today. The process that led to this launch has been a truly collaborative effort with the Government, the UN Development System and its UN Entities and other national stakeholders,โ€ he said.

The UN senior official said the overall aim 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.

The planned intervention centres on the establishment of an innovative inclusive and gender-responsive Renewable Energy Fund (REF) that will leverage private sector investment in the Renewable Energy space.

The Joint Programme will establish a full-scale demonstration of the concept that will have a significant transformational effect through technical assistance, unlocking private sector funding and business models to support and deepen the Renewable Energy value chain. It will positively benefit targeted communities and demonstrate the cross-cutting developmental nature of RE through the creation of local green economies, with new entrepreneurship opportunities, incomes, and job creation.

The UN is contributing USD 10 million; Old Mutual Investment Group is committing USD 10 Million while the Government through the Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe (IDBZ) is committing USD ONE Million. This will also help attract additional capital from the private sector and Old Mutual as Fund Manager is confident in mobilizing additional resources in order to close the Renewable Fund at $45Milliom.

The REF will be funding small- and medium-sized companies for the deployment of projects with both commercial returns and positive impacts in the communities in the RE value chain. The UN will be partnering with capacity-building institutions to capacitate the financial literacy and technical skills of potential youth and women to access funds for the deployment of RE-related solutions.

Old Mutual Group Chief Operations Office (GCOO) Mr. Isiah Mashinya said one of the ways in which the company delivers its Responsible Business mandate is through Responsible Investment.

โ€œWe believe it is our fiduciary duty to invest our customersโ€™ funds responsibly. In doing so, we have incorporated environmental, social and governance (ESG) guidelines into our investment processes while we continue to generate sustainable long-term returns. Sustainability is the cornerstone of our ESG guidelines which encourage the maximisation of customer returns while securing the needs and opportunities of future generations.

โ€œESG issues are deeply embedded in our investment decision-making processes throughout the investment lifecycle. Our responsible investments address a range of challenges related to infrastructure development, climate change and social inequality, in line with contributing to the attainment of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), National Renewable Energy Policy (NREP), National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1) and Vision 2030,โ€ Mr. Mashinya said

Old mutualโ€™s efforts have mainly been in the form of funding renewable energy projects and creating platforms that will act as catalysts to stimulate funding into renewable energy. To date, Old Mutual has funded two operational grid-tied renewable energy plants; a 5MW PV solar power plant in Hwange and a 1.6MW hydropower plant in Rusitu. In addition, Old Mutual has also committed funding to the expansion of a 2.5MW PV solar plant in Nyabira, a 5MW PV solar plant in Gwanda and a 5MW Hydro Power Station in Masvingo. As part of being truly connected to the renewable energy drive, the compNY commissioned a PV solar plant at ITS Harare head office which generates 0.64 MW of solar power covering the electricity needs of the entire office complex.

Notwithstanding its efforts in the renewable energy space, the company thrives on multi-stakeholder partnerships to make great progress possible.

โ€œAs 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. As Old Mutual Zimbabwe, we are grateful for the opportunity to partner with the United Nations and its various agencies, the Government of Zimbabwe and all the relevant stakeholders to collectively apply our creative energies and commitment to supporting renewable energy projects for the achievement of SDGs -5,7,8,9,13 and 17 in Zimbabwe as well as economic upliftment of our nation. Working together we will succeed in reaching multitudes of people in Zimbabwe and impacting their lives positively in multiple ways,โ€ Mr. Mashinya added.

Old Mutual Zimbabwe SDF Fund to accelerate sustainable energy projects investments United Nations in Zimbabwe.

Tpp pic: Mr Mashinya from Old Mutual, Mr. Kallon from the UN, and Minister Zhemu Soda at the SDF launch in Harare

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