The International Trade Centre (ITC) and the African Guarantee Fund for Small and Medium Enterprises (AGF) are hosting a Green Finance Conference in Lusaka, Zambia. The conference provides an important platform for to key stakeholders in Zambia and the region for sharing knowledge and experiences and for working together for a thriving financial services sector that is able to serve enterprises providing environmentally-beneficial products and services.
The partnership between AGF and ITC builds on the momentum from the 2016 Sustainable Innovation Forum held in in Marrakech, Morocco. It highlights a specialised green-guarantee facility aimed at financial institutions and designed to unlock finance for SMEs geared at environmentally friendly development. The partnership is also a response to the Zambia Green Jobs Programme, a joint United Nations programme aimed at creating green jobs in the building and construction sector.
“The ultimate objective of the training sessions is to make financial institutions go green and be ready to support clients seeking dedicated products for green investments,” said Felix A. Bikpo, Chief Executive Officer of AGF. “The training will bring participants up to speed on the environment and social risks related to lending and investment projects. It will also guide participants use strategies and tools to detect, mitigate and evaluate these environmental and social risks,” he said.
Speaking at the conference, Minister of Finance, Hon. Felix Mutati confirmed that Government of Zambia is in support of green finance. “Climate change is a reality, we encourage SME investments in sustainable energy, cleaner production, climate- smart agriculture, natural resource management, and green services leading to improvements in overall sustainability of our economy and growth in green jobs, income and quality of life for low income communities across the country”, he said.
Dorothy Tembo, ITC’s Deputy Executive Director, said: “This new partnership will be a stepping stone to achieve greenhouse-gas emissions targets and enable a shift towards a green economy. Participants will gain know-how on how to access funding for climate-change mitigation and adaptation and attract climate conscious investments. They will also learn how climate-change regulations can help spur the development of new products and services.”
“Zambia has demonstrated its commitment to creating an enabling environment for enterprise development, with initiatives to foster economic and inclusive growth, in general, and green growth, with programmes such as the Zambian Green Jobs, which supports sustainable MSMEs along the building construction value chain. Today, Zambia represents 10% of AGF’s portfolio and we look forward to partner further with Zambian financial institutions,” said David Ekabouma, AGF’s Head of Business Development.
Panel discussions with government officials, leaders of financial institutions and development leaders are advised to draw on positive cases studies of green finance that in Asia, Africa and elsewhere which can be adopted in Zambia.