Malawi is stuck in the category of Least Developed Countries (LDCs) with a stunted energy sector affecting growth, says a latest report released by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad).
The report, titled ‘Transformational Energy Access Based on World Development’ indicates that in Malawi, access to electricity has remained below 20 percent since 2014.
Going forward, Unctad suggests that the country needs to make investments in wind, gas and solar energy as a solution to hydropower challenges.
Unctad Economic Affairs Officer responsible for Research and Policy Analysis for the Africa Division, Matfobhi Riba, is quoted as saying that Malawi ranks among countries with the lowest rates of access in the group of African LDCs.
Riba further said while LDCs have made great strides in recent years, achieving the global goal of universal access to energy by 2030 would require massive increase in their annual rate of electrification.
“The development gap between the worlds’ 47 LDCs and the rest of the developing world threatens to widen unless access to adequate, reliable and affordable sources of modern energy are expanded,” he said.
Riba added that the overwhelming majority of the rural population is without access to electricity and non-solid fuel.
He said the Unctad report sensitises LDCs like Malawi on the potential opportunity that new and decentralised energy technologies hold for expanding access to energy and accelerating electrification to even remote areas.
“It nevertheless cautions LDC policy makers that this potential is significantly nuanced by the need to seek to generate a positive electricity-transformation nexus that is central to achieving structural transformation,” he said.
Currently, Unctad, as a UN organisation, works to assist LDCs to graduate smartly and with momentum through research, analysis and focused technical cooperation and capacity building in response to a country’s request and is tailored to a country’s particular national context.
The report has echoed Malawi Economic Justice Network (Mejn) Executive Director, Dalitso Kubalasa, who said this week that the blackout debate seems to have overstayed in the public domain without much action shown for it.
“It doesn’t need rocket science for one to note the extreme negative impact that the power outages are to the detriment of the economy and public service delivery,” he said.
Governmen t says it i s intensifying the Malawi Rural Electrification Project to bring power to rural communities, procuring gensets and rehabilitating hydro-power stations using local and donor support.
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