THE African Development Bank (AfDB) has deployed two senior officials to Zimbabwe to explore possible commercial opportunities in energy and areas of synergy with the country’s private sector, The NewsHawks has established.
Zimbabwe’s government is currently ineligible for budgetary support or concessionary funding from international financial institutions such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and the AfDB after defaulting on loan repayments at the turn of the millennium.
Lenders such as the private sector-lending arm of the World Bank, the European Investment Bank and most recently the AfDB have been keen on financing bankable projects carried out by the private sector, which badly needs capital to retool and compete with regional peers.
Kevin Kariuki, AfDB vice-president in charge of power, energy, climate and green growth and Solomon Quaynor, VP responsible for private sector and industrialisation, will engage in a series of meetings with the private sector to identify commercial projects which the bank can finance.
Kariuki told journalists that renewable energy projects would top the agenda.
“My main purpose of being here was to reiterate the African Development Bank’s support to the power sector in Zimbabwe, specifically with regard to the Batoka Gorge hydro power project and secondly support the country in energy transition as Zimbabwe embarks on low carbon development trajectory and thirdly to offer support as far as climate smart agriculture is concerned as a means of the country adapting to climate change which is here to stay,” he said.
The visit comes barely two months after AfDB president Akinwumi Adesina flew into the country and committed to helping Zimbabwe clear arrears with its creditors.
Early this year the AfDB announced that a total of US$10.5 million was being allocated by the regional lender to finance three projects in Zimbabwe to bolster socio-economic development.
The three projects are Energy Sector Reform Support Technical Assistance, Institutional Support to Governance and Public Finance Management and Sustainable Enterprise Development for Women and Youth.
AfDB country manager Moono Mupotola said during the launch of the initiatives that all three had gained approval by the bank at the end of 2021.
“The three projects are critical to improving the socio-economic development of the people of Zimbabwe, including youth and women. Each one of the three projects has a funding allocation of US$3.5 million bringing the total value to US$10.5 million over a period ranging from 30 to 48 months,” she said.
The aim of the Energy Sector Reform Support Technical Assistance Programme is to boost the availability of reliable electricity supply via the promotion of independent power producers and to support further integration of renewable energy power generation capacity.
“On the other hand, the Institutional Support for Governance and Public Finance Management Project aims at promoting macro-stability by strengthening public sector effectiveness and accountability.
“The specific objectives are to improve public debt management and support Zimbabwe’s strategy for arrears clearance; enhance public sector effectiveness through strengthening the public procurement system; and enhance inclusive governance and accountability by enhancing the oversight role of Parliament,” Mupotola added.
The Sustainable Enterprise Development for Women and Youth Project also aims to improve job creation for skilled and semi-skilled youths and women and help those in agricultural and small-scale mining sectors within situations of financial vulnerability.
“The projects being launched today were developed in line with the AfDB Country Brief for Zimbabwe 2021-2023 that was approved by the board in May 2021, which focuses on the two pillars, namely: enhancing the productive capacity and resilience of the private sector including in mining and agriculture value chains, and improving good governance and enhancing accountability,” the AfDB country manager said.
“The bank’s country brief’s priority areas are aligned with Zimbabwe’s National Development Strategy 1: 2021-2025 (NDS 1) and the bank’s 10-Year Strategy 2013-2022 whose focus is on inclusive green growth and overarching issues of gender, women and youth employment opportunities, and a private sector-driven economic growth.”