Published on November 2, 2023

SDG Renewable Energy Fund in Zimbabwe

The Joint SDG Renewable Energy Fund programme addresses barriers to financing in the renewable energy (RE) space in Zimbabwe by catalysing local investments.

The UN Joint SDG Fund supports countries in accelerating progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by integrating economic, social and environmental policies and applying multi-dimensional and cross-sectoral approaches to complex social challenges. A broad range of partners have strategically invested in SDG acceleration that is tailored to different country contexts.

In Zimbabwe, the Joint SDG Renewable Energy Fund programme aims to address barriers to financing in the renewable energy (RE) space. The Renewable Energy Fund programme is a primary pathway to catalyze local investments and leverage local financial markets to support investment-worthy renewable energy projects, generate positive social impact, and accelerate the achievement of the SDGs in Zimbabwe.  The programme will utilize the innovative model of Accelerated Local SDG Achievement (ALSA), a principle that lauds the economic empowerment of communities through leveraging the job creation capabilities and entrepreneurship opportunities of the renewable energy sector. Notably, it also emphasizes gender-responsive and inclusive renewable energy investments, with a focus on productive uses. To address capacity gaps in pre-investment, investment and post-investment stages, the Partnering UN Organizations (PUNOs), through the Joint SDG Renewable Energy Fund programme, will leverage partnerships with international renewable energy-capacity building organizations and local money markets to increase access to funding by small and midsize enterprises (SMEs).

The Renewable Energy Fund is of paramount importance in unlocking domestic and international capital for investments into high-impact SMEs and business ventures and kick-starting the required initiatives to achieve an renewable energy-based pathway.

Global Goals covered by the Programme

The Joint SDG Renewable Energy Fund programme directly contributes to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 7: "Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all”

Renewable energy provision and access directly contribute to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals 5, 7, 8, 9, 13 and 17. However, the main challenge associated with the provision and access to clean and affordable energy is the lack of access to financing for renewable energy projects, largely due to the lack of participation from the private sector.

Benefits of the SDG REF Programme

Zimbabwe is currently facing an acute energy crisis with an overall electrification rate reported as low as 44% in 2020 and a supply of electricity for productive uses failing to meet demand. This has consequently resulted in loss of production in key economic sectors such as agriculture, mining, and tourism. Not only is the energy deficit more prominent in rural areas, women and youth are also disproportionately affected. An overarching obstacle that Zimbabwe faces is that of inadequate financing and conducive investment terms for renewable energy and climate change projects. 

The programme’s focus on Accelerated Local SDG Achievement makes it one of the first large-scale demonstrations of ALSA in the region, and serves as a model to present to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Secretariat and member states to further enable adoption of the ALSA model across the region. By providing technical assistance to projects in lieu of concrete funding, the programme also aims to promote project implementation.

The Joint SDG Renewable Energy Fund programme de-risks investment in the renewable energy industry and fosters the integration of small-scale RE businesses through capacity building. To increase its impact, this capacity building centres women and youth to encourage the  proliferation of women and youth-led green energy enterprises.


Main Achievement

The main achievement under the Joint SDG Renewable Energy Fund programme is the establishment of a renewable energy facility to strategically leverage the private sector in facilitating the growth of a gender responsive renewable energy sector. The programme will operate at the nexus of Accelerated Local SDG Achievement (ALSA), the socio-economic empowerment of rural off-grid communities, capacity-building for women and youth-owned SMEs, and renewable energy financing and project development

Expected Results

Through a gender-responsive approach to selecting renewable energy projects,  advancements to Goal 5: Gender Equality is expected to be seen through skill enhancements and capacity building for women and youth. 

Widespread uptake of renewable energy across Zimbabwe is expected to lead to enhanced energy access, particularly in marginalized and vulnerable communities, thereby strengthening livelihoods and helping to achieve Goal 7: Affordable & Clean Energy. 

It is projected that renewable energy enterprises financed by the Joint SDG Renewable Energy Fund will generate employment opportunities and new green jobs in the renewable energy sector. These outcomes collectively will help achieve Goal 8: Decent Work & Economic Growth. 

The proliferation of green energy enterprises, particularly those led by women and youth through the Renewable Energy Fund, will foster the integration of small-scale renewable energy businesses, and contribute to the attainment of Goal 9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure. 

In contrast to projects that employ conventional energy and fossil fuels, clean energy projects under the Joint SDG Renewable Energy Fund focus on ensuring reduced emissions for achieving Goal 13: Climate Action. 

Finally, the Renewable Energy Fund can be a key that unlocks public-private partnerships in the renewable energy sector and foster engagement between renewable energy project financiers and developers. This would be critical for achieving Goal 17: Partnerships for the Goals.


Originally published at UNESCO.



The Joint SDG Fund's joint programmes are under the prestige leadership of the Resident Coordinator Office and implementing United Nations Agencies. With sincere appreciation for the contributions from the European Union and Governments of Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Monaco, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and our private sector funding partners, for a transformative movement towards achieving the SDGs by 2030.