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UN SDG-Fund Approves USD 45 Million Renewable Energy Program in Zimbabwe

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The UN Sustainable Development Goals Fund (SDG Fund) has approved a USD 45 million initiative for setting up a Renewable Energy Fund (REF) to help Zimbabwe implement renewable energy projects. The fund will catalyze investments in renewable energy including hydropower, solar, and biomass for accelerating the country towards the attainment of the SDGs.

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The 4-year program is jointly developed by UNESCO, UNWOMEN, UNDP, and the Government of Zimbabwe and is expected to launch in April this year. The program will leverage private investments to support clean energy projects in Zimbabwe and innovatively target Sustainable Development Goals 5, 7, 8, 9, 13, and 17. The program looks for harnessing the cross-cutting nature of these goals, achieving the rest of the SDGs.

The SDG Fund of the United Nations has mobilized USD 10 million to the fund which will be contributed by several development partners. The partners include Zimbabwe government-owned Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe (IDBZ), Old Mutual Zimbabwe, and local contributors such as CABS, Zimnat Asset Management, the subsidiary of Zimnat Life Assurance Company, etc.

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According to an official UN statement, the active involvement of the United Nations system and Old Mutual in the program will provide credibility and a ‘halo effect’ thereby bringing forth a broader stage and audience for the activities of the REF. 

Old Mutual Zimbabwe is involved in several solar energy projects in the country. The investor helped the installation of the 5 MWp Cross Mabale solar power plant in Hwange, the biggest grid-connected solar plant in Zimbabwe.

The Zimbabwe government has revised its Nationally Determined Contributions and committed itself to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030. The government is financing local renewable energy initiatives as a strategy to achieve this target. This has led to the raising of this renewable energy fund with support from the United Nations SDG Fund. The initiative will promote economic development, electrification, climate action, empowerment of youth and women in the country.

This program will also increase the country’s installed capacity at a time when the state utility Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) is only producing 1,600 MW of electricity out of an estimated 2,000 MW of demand. To tackle the situation, private initiatives are multiplying to diversify the energy mix in the country.

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