By Andreas Thomas
WINDHOEK – Namibia has formally launched the Sustainable Utilization of Natural Resources and Energy Financing programme (SUNREF), an initiative dedicated to the promotion of a new green finance programme in the southern African country.
SUNREF Namibia aims to facilitate access to affordable green technologies, thereby guaranteeing the development of a low carbon environmental footprint and contributing to the reduction of the causes of climate change and other environmental disturbances in Namibia.
SUNREF is a three-year programme, developed by the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) to mobilize private banks in the country to finance private sector investments in green technologies in the sustainable agriculture, tourism, renewable energy and energy efficiency market segments.
Speaking at the launch of SUNREF in Windhoek on May 24, Environment and Tourism Minister Pohamba Shifeta said the programme will be an important driver of the country’s transition towards a low carbon and climate resilient economy and thanked AFD for the support.
Shifeta outlined that Namibia is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to climate change and is deeply committed to the implementation of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, which seeks to keep the global temperature increase below two (2 .C) degrees Celsius.
“Our commitment is embodied in our Cabinet-approved Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) document of 2015. The INDC contains highly ambitious climate change adaptation and mitigation targets in a range of sectors such as energy, waste, agriculture and forestry and industrial production,” he said.
“Although Namibia is a net sink of greenhouse gases that are recognized as a cause of the changing climate, interventions to mitigate climate change such as renewable energy, waste to energy projects and cleaner transportation offer excellent opportunities for cleaner and greener Namibia”.
In addition, the Environment Minister said Namibia is “suffering immense losses due to the impacts of climate change in various sectors of the economy. Human life and livelihoods are particularly negatively impacted due to more frequent and prolonged droughts, more variable rainfall, higher temperatures and floods.
It is with this in mind that we have identified climate adaptation, particularly in the agriculture sector, as a national priority so as to enable hundreds of thousands of vulnerable Namibians to cope with and come to terms with the adverse impacts of climate change”.
Financing to enterprises under this programme will be made available through the three participating commercial banks that will each disburse a total investment of 15 million Euros for green investments in the sustainable agriculture, sustainable tourism, efficient technologies, and renewable energy market segments.
Namibia and France signed a financial co-operation agreement that kicks-off the implementation of Sustainable Use of Natural Resources and Energy Finance in July 2017.
The agreement is part of the Memorandum of Understanding the two countries signed in 2016 in Paris, when President Hage Geingob visited France in November 2016.
As per the agreement, AFD will provide a credit line worth 45 million Euro to finance renewable energy, sustainable agriculture and tourism businesses.
Financing to enterprises under the programme will be made available through the three participating commercial banks that will each disburse a total investment of 15 million Euros for green investments.
These are First National Bank of Namibia, Bank Windhoek and NedBank, while the Environmental Investment Fund (IEF) of Namibia will provide technical assistance to the three participating financial institutions.
A million Euro grant will be granted to IEF to set up a Technical Assistance Facility that will simplify interactions between project sponsors and the participating banks.
EIF was established in 2012 as a state agency to provide funding to individuals, projects and communities that ensure the sustainable use of natural resources.
“The programme will finance bankable Namibian projects in the following priority sectors – renewable energy and energy efficiency, sustainable agriculture and sustainable tourism,” Minister Shifeta explained.
Since 2006, 42 SUNREF projects have been successfully implemented, in partnership with 70 local banks in some 30 countries of operation, for a total commitment of over 2.5 billion Euros of loans allocated by AFD, of which 1.2 billion has been disbursed.
“I am aware that SUNREF programmes in other countries have set their focus on renewable energy and energy efficiency only and targeting financial institutions and commercial banks to promote investments in the energy sector.
It therefore gives me immense pleasure to note that the SUNREF Namibia programme goes beyond energy and targets the wider needs of the Namibian community,” said the minister.