The launch of the National Renewable Energy Policy (NREP) and the Bio-fuels Policy of Zimbabwe represents a major milestone in our country’s efforts to catalyse the transition to renewable energy — a key step in the attainment of Strategic Development Goal (SDG) number 7, which seeks to ensure universal energy access to all.
It is clear that Zimbabwe has the potential to lead Africa in scaling up and generating renewable energy.
Already, the country is experiencing a growing uptake of renewable energy by both individual consumers, companies and mining entities.
The launch of the two policies will bolster confidence among energy consumers, private sector investors and the Government as well as scaling up efforts to move towards greening our energy consumption.
Access to renewable energy will certainly improve livelihoods, help small businesses to thrive and power essential services such as schools and clinics.
We all know the crippling effects brought about by widespread electricity blackouts in the country.
Power shortages, the need to adopt cleaner and efficient systems, SDG targets on energy and our dream to be a middle income economy by 2030 all highlight the importance of adopting renewable energy as a national strategy.
Given the gravity of the energy crisis facing the country, it is heartening to see the Government launching the two policies on renewable energy.
Above that, it is also encouraging that the Government has incentives that could spur the rapid adoption of renewable energy.
Zimbabwe is rich in renewable energy sources that include sunlight, biofuels matter, wind, water and even geothermal heat.
Harnessing all these energy sources will help the country to reduce pressure on its main Zesa electricity grid and enable Zimbabweans to make huge savings on energy import costs, achieve its SDGs on energy and contribute towards Vision 2030.
Under the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP), the Government identifies renewable energy sources as key drivers for the widening of electricity access to rural households.
Wider promotion of the adoption of renewable energy sources such as solar panels, wind farms or hydroelectric dams will help the country’s transition to low carbon energy systems and ensure that everyone around the country has access to affordable, reliable and sustainable energy.
We hope the policies will push for new off-grid solutions, which can lead to a rapid expansion of the national grid to most remote parts of the country that are yet to be connected.
Launching policies is one thing and mobilising funding for renewable energy adoption is quite another.
The Government, the private sector and development partners must join hands to mobilise funding for investment in the renewable energy sector.
Without adequate funding and investment, policies will gather dust on the shelves of Government bureaucracy.
Robust financing arrangements and facilities are needed to make the policies work for the people.
Apart from private sector investment, State energy utilities need to also scale up their own investments on solar power micro-grids, build technical partnerships with development partners as well as elicit political capital to support the rolling out of such electrification programmes.
This way, the policies will speak to the ideas and actions captured in the renewable energy policy plans.
Renewable energy has a key role to play in mitigating climate change and guaranteeing long-term energy supply.
The launch of the renewable energy policies shines light in all efforts to address climate change and energy security concerns.
It puts Zimbabwe firmly on track to achieving universal electricity access by 2030 while at the same time helping the country to meet some of the its obligations under the Paris Agreement on climate change, which it ratified in 2017.
Under the agreement, the country is obliged to take steps to cut the emission of climate-warming gases like carbon dioxide and methane.