There is growing uncertainty about the possibility of the Malawi/Mozambique power interconnection project with its funders World Bank declaring that the much anticipated power deal is still in the rubbish can despite government officials claiming the deal is still on.
The development ultimately punch holes into government ambitions to boost Malawi’s energy sector which business commentators say is contributing to the country’s failure to register quick economic recovery.
However, three months after the declaration, the World Bank through its Communications Officer Zeria Banda insists in an emailed response to Malawi News that it is yet to receive any formal communication of Malawi’s interest to resuscitate the project.
“As you are aware, the project that you are referring to (Malawi/ Mozambique Power Interconnector) was cancelled. As for the current interaction between Malawi and Mozambique, we do not as yet have communication from government about its interconnection plans, so we are also waiting,” said Banda.
While Malawi News tried the whole week to get position of Energy and Mining Minister Cassim Chilumpha he could not be reached on his mobile phone and so was Principal Secretary for the ministry.
Finance minister Ken Lipenga while insisting that questions should be addressed to Energy and Mining ministry maintained that the project is up and running.
“You can you get the latest developments from Energy and Mining although I can tell you that the project is very much on track. The reason for interconnection is simple: as a country we face challenges in the energy sector. Although we continue to explore various ways of exploiting our existing potential in power generation, any opportunity to benefit from interconnection with any of our neighbours must be explored,” he said.
However, Lipenga took a swipe at detractors of the project who have raised alarm at the huge sums of money the country has to cough throughout the project.
Recently local press reports quoted Principal Secretary for Energy and Mines Ben Botolo as saying Ministry of Justice had already approved a draft agreement and that government was waiting for its counterpart in Mozambique for a response.
The deal went off track after the former DPP administration of Bingu wa Mutharika refused to sign the agreement for undisclosed reasons, but Finance Minister Ken Lipenga told parliament in June that the PP administration would re-engage World Bank to ensure that the country benefit from the Mozambique power grid.