President Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera says insufficient energy supply in Southern African Development Cooperation countries has a direct negative bearing on consolidation of democracy.
The President was speaking in Lilongwe on Monday when he officially opened the 51st Plenary Assembly of the SADC Parliamentary Forum.
The assembly has been convened under the theme “Towards energy Efficiency, Sustainability and Self Sufficiency in the SADC Region”.
The Malawi leader singled out energy as a threat to democracy if it is not organized to benefit the masses.
“Our energy insecurity is a threat to our very democracy. Since our democracy is like a coat of many colours, we must realize that we cannot consolidate the gains thereof when our people are struggling with energy needs due to scarcity, inequitable distribution and everincreasing prices. We cannot progress when we are so stuck in reverse that a programme meant to electrify our people in rural areas only exerts more pressure on the national grid that’s already failing to meet present demands.,” he said.
President Chakwera expressed hope that the session will find solutions to energy problems across the region as per statutes that guide SADC policy direction.
The Maseru 1996 SADC Protocol on Energy recognizes the importance of energy in pursuit of the SADC vision of economic well-being and poverty eradication in Southern Africa.
Among the proposed solutions to energy problems President Chakwera singled out a migration to renewable energy as a viable option.
“The scale of the hurdles we face today in the SADC region, is unravelling against the background of our decades-long quest to diversify our energy sources and to transition to green renewable energy. Our decades of slumber have face a rude awakening from the Russia-Ukraine conflict that has exposed our vulnerability and insecurity in the area of energy.”
President Chakwera is the fourth Malawi leader to open a SADC Parliamentary Forum session. Others before him were Bakili Muluzi in 2000, Professor Bingu wa Mutharika in 2007 and Dr. Joyce Banda in 2012.