Environmental Investment Fund desperate for money

08 Dec 2015 19:30pm
By Pearl Coetzee
PARIS, 08 DEC (NAMPA) – The Environmental Investment Fund (EIF) of Namibia has called on Government to avail more money to the institution to satisfy the current demands for funding environmentally friendly or ‘green’ projects in the country.
EIF Chief Executive Officer, Benedict Libanda told Nampa on Monday during the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 21) climate change conference underway here, that the fund has already discussed the issue with its shareholder, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, on how better to capitalise and meet the immediate needs of the fund.
“We find ourselves to be in a very big challenge. We are in a situation whereby the demand for environmentally friendly projects as well as climate change mitigation and adaptation projects have really increased over the past three years since our inception. I have to be clear, the challenge is not related to mismanagement of funds but because of the high demand for loans and grants for communities and institutions in Namibia,” he stressed.
The EIF was created by Act 13 of 2001 of the Parliament of the Republic of Namibia with the overall aim of supporting individuals, projects and communities that ensure the sustainable use of natural resources. The EIF was officially launched in 2012 to invest in the protection and wise management of the environment; promoting sustainable use of natural resources for economic development; and conserving biological diversity and ecological life support functions.
During this year alone, the EIF provided amongst others, a grant worth N.dollars 500 000 for the establishment of the Research Centre for Material Science at the University of Namibia (UNAM); a loan worth more than N.dollars 900 000 for waste bottles recycling enterprise development by Ngunga Investments; a grant of N.dollars 600 000 to the Namibia Agricultural Union (NAU) to control the rabies epizootic in Namibian Kudu; and a grant of more than N.dollars 740 000 for a water supply project at the Vasdraai resettlement farm by Green Cycle Investment.
Libanda explained that the EIF is beginning to take up a bigger space in the country’s economic development sphere, which is environmentally friendly; resilient to the impacts of climate change; and that promotes a green economy. “This kind of development needs bigger capitalisation and more financial injections in order to implement the mandate of the institution.”
Sketching the current situation, Libanda said the EIF had received about N.dollars 50 million per year and it raised another N.dollars 15 million from development partners per year. About N.dollars 150 million worth of grant requests come from communities, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), civil society organisations and research institutions. The EIF thus far only approved loans of about five per cent of what was requested from the applicants per year, while it only approved seven per cent of the grants per year. To satisfy the current demand, the EIF needs about N.dollars 90 million per year.
“At the current rate, that is very low to make a meaningful impact on our mandate.”
On a good note, the EIF has done some developmental milestones as it raised capital from developmental partners such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC); United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); and the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ). It has raised up to N.dollars 40 million for projects.
The EIF has also been accredited by the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and is working towards accessing close to N.dollars 400 million for the first projects of the institution. However, this process takes very long – it is about two years from accreditation to implementation.
The GCF is a unique global platform to respond to climate change by investing in low-emission and climate-resilient development. The GCF was established by about 190 governments to limit or reduce greenhouse gas emissions in developing countries that are aiming to industrialise, and to help societies adapt to the impacts of climate change.
Libanda also made reference to the South African Government that has invested about N.dollars 1.3 billion in its Green Fund for three years. The fund is revolving and also funds bigger projects. This has created much-needed jobs, according to Libanda.
“As climate change in Namibia is intensifying there is a need to relook the capitalisation of the fund. The EIF has the potential to improve the livelihoods of communities; contribute to the Fourth National Development Programme (NDP4); achieve Vision 2030; and create much-needed jobs for the unemployment sector,” Libanda added.
Institutions and organisations that are awarded EIF grants or loans for projects or activities are limited to a maximum of N.dollars 350 000 while justification for proposals exceeding the ceiling is also encouraged. The minimum amount that is granted or loaned to institutions or organisations is N.dollars 10 000. The EIF has also established a bursary and research assistance facility that provides financial assistance opportunities to deserving and qualifying Namibians to pursue relevant career options.