Speech by Ashok Lavasa, ADB Vice President for Private Sector Operations and Public–Private Partnerships, at the Signing Ceremony of the Uzbekistan Navoi Scaling Solar 100MW Project, 22 December 2020
Your Excellency Mr. Umurzakov, distinguished colleagues from the Government of Uzbekistan, colleagues from Masdar, my fellow development partners from the World Bank, IFC, and EBRD, and my colleagues from ADB.
Good afternoon from New Delhi.
I am honored to join this signing ceremony for the Nur Navoi Solar project. As has become the normal, we conduct such ceremonies virtually these days but ADB keenly looks forward to witnessing the success of this project physically in the near future. Personally, I would be happy to visit the project whenever the situation permits to see the outcome of a fine collaborative venture that has many firsts attached to it.
The signing today will support the very first solar PV project and also the very first independent power project in Uzbekistan - developed by an industry leader - Masdar – which has a remarkable renewable energy footprint and track record. Masdar’s commitment to renewale energy in this region makes it a strong partner for development banks. The project will play a critical role in promoting renewable energy, maximizing access to energy for all, and increasing private sector participation in the energy sector. With its highly competitive tariff and innovative structure, the Project will help improve Uzbekistan’s energy security, affordability, and sustainability.
The project is strongly aligned with ADB’s sovereign support for the country’s ongoing Power Sector Reform Program - which has specifically laid out policy objectives to attract private renewable energy investments. In this connection, I sincerely congratulate the Government for its efforts to liberalize the energy sector based on market principles and improving the overall financial viability of the sector.
We are also grateful to the Government for appointing ADB as transaction advisors to replicate project templates for a further 1GW solar program. Such initiatives reflect Uzbekistan’s commitment to international best practices and transparency, the country’s growing role in regional renewable energy, and its strategy for energy efficiency and sustainability. As your transaction advisors – Mr. Umurzakov - ADB looks forward to the upcoming Sherabad solar auction - which is the first phase of ADB’s 1GW solar advisory program.
As the first major private sector renewables investment in Uzbekistan, Navoi solar is a landmark transaction in many ways. I am particularly pleased to note that the project – aided by IBRD’s Scaling Solar Program and IFC’s advisory services - will help establish best practice and bankable precedents intended to catalyze further private sector participation. The successful completion of Navoi solar will significantly help improve the risk profile of the sector – and allow the Government to rapidly develop its renewable energy sector to facilitate diversification of the country’s energy mix and attract private investment.The project will significantly help the Government in meeting its target of at least 25% renewable energy capacity by 2030. This also strongly aligns with ADB’s focus on climate finance and will contribute meaningfully to meeting ADB’s annual climate-related financing target of $6 billion.
ADB is pleased to be providing a senior debt finance facility – in a combination of our own resources and that from the ADB-administered Canadian Fund for the Private Sector in Asia - established through our partnership with the Government of Canada.
I thank Masdar for choosing ADB as a partner for the Project. I also thank all my fellow development partners for the strong collaboration. And lastly, my sincerest congratulations to the Government of Uzbekistan for the successful financial close of the project. This achievement is particularly noteworthy - given disruptions caused by COVID-19 – despite which a very speedy financial close could be achieved.
In this connection, let me also briefly reiterate ADB’s strong solidarity with the Government and the citizens of Uzbekistan against the backdrop of the current pandemic. We are happy to have provided sovereign financial support in excess of $600 million to Uzbekistan to meet some of its immediate and emergency funding needs arising out of COVID-19.
Let me conclude by wishing well for the people of Uzbekistan and wishing this Project all success. ADB remains strongly committed to the growth of the renewable energy sector in Uzbekistan – and to supporting the Government and Masdar in this regard.
I take this opportunity to wish all of you safe and happy holidays – a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year, and a very bright future. Thank you.