The inception workshop in Kabul for the implementation of a major off-grid clean electrification project for Afghanistan’s rural communities. Photo: UNDP Afghanistan / MRRD / 2021

Kabul, 08 March 2021 –
The Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD), the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA) held an inception workshop to kick off the implementation of a major off-grid clean electrification project for Afghanistan’s rural communities.  

The Afghanistan Rural Energy Market Transformation Initiative (AREMTI) aims to create the market conditions that will enable the scale up of renewable energy mini-grids across the country in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase clean energy access and build the capacity of government officials and the private sector in solar technologies. It will contribute to the 2030 Agenda in Afghanistan by advancing Sustainable Development Goal 7, access to clean, affordable and reliable energy, which enables the achievement of many other SDGs including poverty alleviation, gender equality and climate action.

It is the country’s first project to be funded in majority by the Green Climate Fund (GCF), with co-finance from UNDP and MRRD. Approved by the GCF Board in August 2020, the total grant of US$21.3 million will finance the construction of three solar mini-grids, as well as de-risking activities to strengthen the rural energy and renewable energy policy and regulatory framework, capacity building, and the creation of an upscaling platform for the development of additional solar mini-grids. These activities will be key to support government institutions and the private sector to identify business opportunities and enable them to scale up renewable energy mini-grids across the country.

“As we all know, countries around the world are moving toward a future based on renewable energy. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has provided a framework that requires us to take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts,” said Mr. Popal Habibi, Deputy Minister of Programs at MRRD, in his opening remarks at the inception workshop. “We strongly believe the project will help us move toward turning our commitment to green energy into reality.”

“Our partnership with the GCF for this project is a first for the country, and UNDP Afghanistan is proud to support the government in the key sector that is energy. Clean energy access can ease many of the difficulties the Afghan people are facing. The project’s main focus is to bring real positive changes to people’s lives.” added Ms. Surayo Buzurukova, UNDP Afghanistan’s Senior Deputy Resident Representative for Programme.

For Mr. Ezatullah Sediqi, the Deputy Director General of the National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA), this project can open the door to further GCF-backed projects, which would be instrumental in helping the country tackle climate change. “Climate change is a global challenge that has affected countries around the globe including Afghanistan,” he highlighted. “The country has experienced more droughts in the last two decades than ever before and will probably face droughts in the coming year too. There is need for a coordinated response.”

AREMTI project manager Mohammad Ajmal Shinwari added that “environment is at the top of the government’s agenda. MRRD is proud to be one of the key governmental institutions to support the country to achieve its climate and sustainable energy goals.”

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