Call for a National Dialogue in Zimbabwe

Reviewing the foundation for a meeting of minds

A recent op-ed by Dr Ibbo Mandaza, director of the SAPES Trust, called for a paradigm shift to achieve reform in Zimbabwe, a country clearly in deep crisis. One of the options he proposed was a call for a National Dialogue process. The purpose of this piece is to expand on factors to consider for calling for such a process. National Dialogues are defined as “nationally owned political processes aimed at generating consensus among a broad range of national stakeholders in times of deep political crisis, in post-war situations or during far-reaching political transitions”¹. They may also be defined as broad-based, inclusive and participatory negotiation platforms involving all sectors of society brought together to negotiate and strengthen the social contract between citizens and the state.

Ibbo Mandaza is a Zimbabwean academic, author and publisher. He is convenor of the SAPES Trust Policy Dialogue Forum; and co-convener (with Tony Reeler) of the Platform for Concerned Citizens (PCC).

In recent years, we have witnessed several attempts to conduct National Dialogues as critical tools in the prevention of conflict and for managing political crisis and transitions. However, while there may be wide ranging inclusive buy-in amongst the different stakeholders, a limitation regarding conceptual clarity persists which in turn limits the likely success of the process. Agreeing on the objectives of a National Dialogue may seem like a straight forward exercise but if the foundation of the process is not correctly laid there will be fissures of concern later in the process.

According to the National Dialogue Handbook: A Guide for Practitioners the objectives of National Dialogues tend to be context dependent: “They may focus on a more narrow set of specific or substantive objectives (i.e., security arrangements, constitutional amendments, truth commissions, etc.), or on broad-based change processes, which may entail (re)building a (new) political system and developing a (new) social contract.” It is for the Zimbabwean stakeholders to decide and agree on the objective before the process commences. If this part of the process is not carefully considered it may result in contestation over who the included stakeholders are leading to mistrust, fear, nefarious agenda setting etc. The Handbook distinguishes between two main types of National Dialogue, identified according to the function they seek to fulfil:

  • A shorter-term endeavour, undertaken strategically as a means to resolve or prevent the outbreak of armed violence
  • Key aims: breaking political deadlocks and re-establishing minimal political consensus, while further reform and steps toward change can be negotiated
  • Key characteristics: with more limited mandates, these tend to be smaller in size and shorter in duration. They are often easier to manage due to the restricted number of actors who may be involved, but also may reflect a less inclusive structure, whereby broad-based societal buy-in for desired changes can be difficult to generate.

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa (3rdL) shakes hands with leaders of political parties who contested him in the last presidential elections after a dialogue meeting hosted at the State House in Harare on February 6, 2019. Photo: Jekesai Njikizana/ AFP

National Dialogues as mechanisms for fundamental change

  • Efforts with a longer-term trajectory, envisioned as a means to redefine state-society relations, or establish a new ‘social contract’
  • Key aims: far-reaching institutional and constitutional changes
  • Key characteristics: broad mandate and often fairly large in size. Seeking to include large strata of society and generate widespread support. They are confronted with the challenges of managing large-scale processes.

In the case of Zimbabwe, it may be wise to adopt a more hybrid model incorporating elements from both approaches as it may be more relevant for a longer sustained political solution. As stated, the political context in which the implementation of a National Dialogue takes place has a direct impact on the success of the process. Huma Haider, an independent research consultant, lists the following as factors to be considered:

  • Political will: the greater the level of political will and elite agreement on the way forward, the greater the likelihood of successful outcomes and implementation.
  • Links to other transitional processes: National Dialogues need to be embedded in larger change processes in order to promote real structural change. If disconnected to other political processes, such as constitution-making, they are likely to be counter-productive.
  • Common ground among parties: the absence of diametrically opposed political camps can make it more likely to arrive at a common view or shared objectives in dialogue, allowing for the process to move forward. In contrast, drastically different views can exacerbate distrust and stall the process.
  • Public buy-in: public support or lack thereof can enable or constrain progress in the National Dialogue process. The degree of buy-in is influenced by the availability of public information, good communication, and media engagement – all of which affect the level of transparency and understanding of the process.
  • Learning from past experience: National Dialogues have benefitted from dialogue expertise and learning from past National Dialogues.
  • The role of external actors and national ownership: support (e.g. political, financial and technical support) or resistance of external actors can influence the degree of success of national dialogues. It is important to strike a balance between external support and national ownership. The latter can increase the likelihood of public buy-in, perceptions of legitimacy – and chances of implementation.

Haider also states that in conjunction with political context factors, design or process factors are important, as these play a role in influencing the likelihood of reaching sustainable agreements. Key process factors include:

  • The degree of inclusion and participation: the vast majority of literature on this subject emphasises that the transformative potential of national dialogues can only be realised if they are genuinely inclusive of society. In order to be truly inclusive, it is necessary to help balance power asymmetries and ensure actual decision-making power. Highly inclusive and participatory national dialogues may render discussions unwieldly, however, and make it difficult to resolve key political questions. The success of national dialogues can depend in large part on finding the right equilibrium between efficiency and inclusiveness.
  • Representation and selection criteria: established selection criteria and procedures for participants in national dialogues can support or hinder the broad representation of different social and political groups. Transparency in the criteria is significantly important.
  • Objective and scope-setting: it is important to avoid overburdening mandates and agendas. It can be challenging to strike a balance between the breadth of the mandate, efficiency and independence. While a narrower mandate can be more manageable and efficient, it can limit the room for change and may contribute to the persistence of an elite-led process. Clarity and relevance to local populations are key characteristics to adopt in deriving a suitable mandate and agenda. Addressing development issues and peace dividends at the outset can be important to the success of national dialogues.
  • Institutional framework and support structures: a comprehensive support structure of important actors close to competing parties can help participants to be prepared (with the necessary expertise and tools), to compromise and to build coalitions, allowing them time to agree on common positions. Such structures do not, however, necessarily improve the quality of participation or guarantee implementation.
  • Role of authority figures: a credible, broadly accepted, independent, respected and charismatic convenor, mediator or facilitator can significantly affect the strength of the national dialogue, indicating seriousness and trust in the process.
  • Decision-making procedures: these can enable or constrain the ability of national dialogues to reach an agreement and implement it. While consensus can help to expand agendas and to include often excluded voices, an inability to reach consensus can benefit the more established forces, as the absence of movement can mean preserving the status quo. Consensus-based decision-making needs to be complemented by other pragmatic mechanisms where deadlocks can be broken, such as the use of working groups.
  • Confidence-building measures: national dialogues must be accompanied by a series of steps to attenuate tensions, in order to establish a level of “working trust” to engage in a meaningful dialogue. Trust-building is important throughout all phases in order to ensure that agreements are also implemented.
  • Provision for implementation: it is necessary to ensure that sufficient funds for implementation, expertise and accountability mechanisms are in place, such that key actors may feel bound by what has been agreed. Transitional bodies and/or new institutions are often set up to implement the outcomes. Implementation can be tough if participants have made unrealistic decisions, if political will is absent, or if external actors fail to provide necessary support.

It is important to emphasise that even with all the above factors in place, the process can still fail if the commitment from those in power are merely a means to “demonstrate” a willingness  to participate in the process but are not fully vested as seen in previous efforts:

“They want to say put in place electoral reforms that will ensure that you lose and we win. And we’re saying no. That will never happen anywhere in a modern constitutional democracy, that a political party that has come into government on the back of a new negotiated constitution, on the back of a new negotiated Electoral Act, comes up with reforms that will reform it out of power. Because the reforms they’re talking about are clear codes to say come with reforms that will ensure that you’re out.” – Former Politburo member and Cabinet Minister, Professor Jonathan Moyo.

This is the difficulty, and at times immovable challenge, in setting up National Dialogues. If Zimbabwe is to succeed, it may require certain difficult conditions to be agreed upon before the process is implemented. This may be a stumbling block too heavy to move across the start line. Otherwise, it may end up being merely a process of going through the motions without a chance of real reforms being formulated and agreed on.

In short, if the National Dialogue process is to succeed, the following foundation strengthening factors must be applied:

  • if there is no trust in the stakeholders the process will fail before it starts
  • a neutral convenor must be accepted by all parties
  • the process must be insulated from undue political or external influence
  • insisting on transparency at all levels of the process
  • outcomes from the process must be acted on and directed to their relevant streams – policy, legislation or strategy.

¹ Marike Blunck et al., National Dialogue Handbook: A Guide for Practitioners; Berghof Foundation, 2017

Dr Craig Moffat is Head of Programme: Governance Delivery and Impact at Good Governance Africa.

SADC COVID-19 Pandemic – An Opportunity to Strengthen Governance

To many in the research community, Africa remains an anomaly, as it has experienced less of the coronavirus burden than many other regions in the world. According to the Africa Centre for Disease Control (AU CDC), as of 27 January 2021, at least 40 countries are experiencing a second wave of the pandemic, including all countries in the SADC region. As of 2 February 2021, the confirmed number of Covid-19 cases from 55 African countries reached 3,582,328.

On the continent, South Africa is the outlier, with the highest percentage of recorded active cases of the coronavirus. Based on the available data, South Africa is the epicentre of the pandemic on the continent, and as such the South African Development Community (SADC) finds itself, by extension, in the same situation. SADC member states have experienced a spike in infection numbers attributed to the ‘second wave’ and secondly, to the more recently discovered new variant of the virus known as 501Y.V2. Up until now, more than 50% of all new daily infections of COVID-19 on the continent have been reported in the SADC region.

Factory workers check personal protective equipment for COVID-19 frontline health
workers at a factory commissioned by the government in Accra, Ghana, April 2020.
Photo: Nipah Dennis/AFP

South Africa’s discovery of the new variant has corresponded with a new surge in infection numbers. Researchers have claimed the new variant is around 50% more contagious, based on the much faster rate of COVID-19 transmission, as it appears the new variant structure enables easier attachment to and infection of human cells.

The alarming increase in new infections in the SADC in the first two weeks of January 2021 saw the total number of new confirmed COVID-19 cases surge to 346 010, accounting for about 22% of the total number of cases registered since the beginning of the pandemic in the region. Concerns are mounting that the higher percentage of regional infections are being driven in part by the new variant which, according to the AU CDC, has so far been reported in three SADC countries. With the faster rate of transmission, it is only a matter of time before other SADC countries record infections related to the new virus variant.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has hampered both social and economic activities in SADC countries to varying degrees, it has also had a detrimental impact on the governance capacity in the region. Since the end of 2020 and the start of 2021, SADC member states have lost ten cabinet Ministers from four countries who succumbed to the coronavirus:

Zimbabwe – Transport Minister Joel Matiza, Foreign Affairs Minister Sibusiso Moyo, State for Manicaland Provincial Affairs, Ellen Gwaradzimba and Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement Perrance Shiri

Malawi – Transport Minister Sidik Mia and Local Government Minister Lingson Berekanyama

Eswatini – Prime Minister Ambrose Dlamini, Minister of Labour and Social Security Makhosi Vilakati and Minister of Public Service Christian Ntshangase

South Africa – Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu

Unfortunately, unless there is a drastic change in the rate of transmission, it is anticipated the above list will grow as the variant takes hold in all SADC member states. As states remain the chief bearers of the responsibility to govern, there is an inherent expectation of them to provide and implement political, social and economic measures to service the expectations of their citizens. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has heightened this responsibility of the state apparatus, as the normal livelihoods of the citizens may have been disturbed. Thus, citizens have found themselves in a position where they must rely more on the state to formulate policies and provide means to mitigate the devastating effects of the pandemic on their livelihoods. Without a doubt, there is an expectation of the states to formulate and implement adequate policy interventions to address the negative impact of the pandemic, while still providing effective service delivery and maintaining good state-society relations. With a view to attaining these goals, more so in times of crisis, states should continue upholding the rule of law, respecting fundamental human rights and freedoms, be accountable and ensure inclusive and participatory democratic governance.

With the death of several SADC political leaders from Ministries that were tasked with dealing directly with providing goods and services to the society at large, it adds only to the already heavy burden of the state to provide for even the most basic needs of their citizens.

However, as the adage goes: ‘in crisis lies opportunity’. This may be the opportunity for SADC member states whose primary responsibility remains to govern, to reflect on lessons that have emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic. These lessons may require SADC leaders to be open to having deeper, difficult deliberations around the possibility of re-energising the role of the state in good governance practices in the region in particular, and the continent in general. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the limitations states have in adequately addressing emerging challenges such as a pandemic. States have to be more resourceful in developing sophisticated means to address the scourge of inadequate service delivery, which was heightened and on display during the course of the pandemic. If this threat is left to fester, it may increase instability which in turn impacts negatively on governance, peace and security on the continent.

An alarming underlying feature which emerged during the pandemic was the high occurrence and degree of lack of accountability and corruption in both the public and private sectors in the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE) to curb and manage the threat posed by the pandemic, while undermining effective good governance practices. In the case of South Africa, it is unlawful for public servants to do business with the state, but there have been several high profile public servants accused of abusing their positions or proximity to power to exploit the emergency procurement regulations. This enabled some government officials and their families to rake in the millions through alleged corrupt deals with opportunistic companies that emerged suddenly and diversified into the PPE market. According to Tedros Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of the World Health Organization: “Any type of corruption is unacceptable. However, corruption related to PPE… for me it’s actually murder. Because if health workers work without PPE, we’re risking their lives. And that also risks the lives of the people they serve. So it’s criminal and it’s murder and it has to stop.”

Moving forward, there should be a change in approach in which the SADC as a region seeks to remedy the prevailing trust deficit. Regional leaders should endeavour to uphold the social contract through inclusive and participatory governance with the aim of positively delivering to the citizens. The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated how the most vulnerable of the population, including women, children, youth and persons with disabilities carried more of the pandemic’s burden. The SADC member states should therefore seize this opportunity in this time of crisis to strengthen their capacity for achieving adequate service delivery, continued respect for human rights, upholding the rule of law, constitutionalism and transparency.

In a recent statement, President Filipe Jacinto Nyusi of Mozambique, in his position as the current SADC Chairperson, strongly encouraged the region to “build on the knowledge and experience achieved in mitigating this pandemic and continue to adopt common and harmonised policies, guidelines, strategies and measures in response to the pandemic.” Let us hope that he is true to his call and the SADC will not miss this opportunity to strengthen its good governance principles. It is imperative going forward that best practices and lessons learnt during the COVID-19 pandemic are formulated into policies and implemented to benefit the citizens of the region.

This article also appeared in the Cape ARGUS.

Craig Moffat, PhD is the Head of Programme: Governance Delivery and Impact for Good Governance Africa’s National Security Programme. He has more than 17 years of practical experience working for government institutions and multilateral organisations. He was previously employed by the South African Foreign Service, where he worked extensively at identifying and analysing security threats towards South Africa as well as the southern Africa region. Previously, he was the political advisor for the Pretoria Regional Delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross. He holds a PhD in Political Science from Stellenbosch University.

The impact of South Africa’s governance response to COVID-19

City of Tshwane Health officials are seen during a testing drive for COVID-19 at the Bloed Street Mall in Pretoria Central Business District, on June 11, 2020. Photo: Phill Magakoe/AFP

When COVID-19 first struck, South African policymakers reacted promptly and implemented one of the world’s strictest lockdowns for five consecutive weeks. Despite that, and slow release of the restrictions thereafter, the curve of infection rates has taken shape independently of economic lockdown interventions. By all accounts, those interventions have produced extensive opportunity costs and unintended negative consequences. But with infection rates on the rise, policymakers are confronted with having to make difficult decisions yet again 

The initial decision in March 2020 to impose a hard lockdown was relatively well received, but the subsequent formulation and implementation of regulations under the National Disaster Act has been haphazard at best. Perhaps the most stark manifestation of the economic impact is reflected in a R300bn shortfall in expected tax revenue. This amounts to nearly 30 percent of South Africa’s annual budget of over R1 trillion.    

Key questions pertaining to COVID-19 governance responses also remain unanswered: Were the regulations pertaining to lockdown levels consistently implementedor were they arbitrary and disproportionately unfair to the poor? Was lockdown warranted? Until these questions are addressed, policymakers may continue to devise and implement strategies with high opportunity costs and unintended negative consequences. For instance, HIV and TB testing rates have decreased during the last few months, raising the risk of more immune-compromised citizens dying than would otherwise have been the case, even as COVID-19 continues to spread.

Malnutrition has increased in the wake of deepening poverty, further compromising immune system health. In addition, thousands of children have missed their vaccinations as parents face increasingly stark choices between earning daily bread and taking their children to a local clinic. A resultant measles outbreak would result in far higher excess deaths than what COVID-19 has inflicted.    

A critical dimension of these questions is how much freedom (and future health) citizens should be expected to sacrifice for the greater good, in the context of a pandemic. Logical criteria have to be formulated by which trade-offs are made to produce the least-worst long-run outcome. Only once these are established is public adherence to regulations likely to occur in good faith. Consistent, transparent and equitable interventions establish trust; autocratic and arbitrary impositions break trust, rendering interventions invariably counter-productive.   

In this respect, it is important to think of COVID-19 not as a single global pandemic, but as a simultaneous outbreak of innumerable local epidemics, each one slightly different. Context-specific understanding of local dynamics really matters. Infectious disease outbreaks unfold differently in different communities, according to social conditions that only local people understand. A densely populated township has a different infection rate trajectory to a middle-class suburba villagea refugee camp or community of nomadic people. Therefore, it is particularly important for local communities to be fully involved in planning and implementing epidemic control measures.  

Asia, Europe and North America all adopted much of the same epidemic control policy – some form of ‘lockdown’. African governments followed suite, but it is not clear that lockdowns were appropriate for our contextsIn South Africa, for instance, our deep societal inequalities – a function of our apartheid past – seem to not have been sufficiently considered. Social distancing is impractical for people sharing communal water and sanitation facilities, or living in high-density townships. Moreover, these are the same citizens whose livelihoods are made even more precarious by economic restrictions.

For most black communities, with people living from hand to mouth and reliant on earning cash in the market to buy food, a few days of lockdown can be the difference between survival and starvation. The measures taken to prevent the spread of the coronavirus exposed a wide range of systemic problems right across the continent, from water shortages to overcrowding to a lack of sanitation. 

The largest impact of the pandemic was and still is felt by informal workers, through lockdown measures that limited or prevented them from working. The problem for informal traders starts with their means of travel to and from their working stations, as they rely heavily on public transport. The first people to experience police brutality from the lockdown imposition were informal workers. Enforcing these restrictions presents a significant challenge for the police: ethically, should they have rigidly enforced social distancing and other measures, or should they have been more cognisant and considerate of the local context? 

The impact of lockdown regulations on the informal sector is just one example that raises the more significantbroader question of whether the government sufficiently considered the foreseeable economic and social consequences of its lockdown decisions. On a macro level, South Africa started the year with the economy in a technical recession, after the fourth quarter of 2019 saw a 1.8% quarterly decline on the back of a preceding 0.8% quarterly decline. GDP dropped by a massive 16.4% between the first and second quarter of 2020, and 5.2 million workers exited the workforce.  

During an economic crisis, small businesses are the most vulnerable to collapse, as they have fewer resources with which to adapt to a changing context. The ITC COVID-19 Business Impact Surveyconducted from 21 April to 2 June 2020revealed that in Africa two out of three businesses were negatively affected by COVID-1975% of respondents reported reduced sales and 54% had difficulty accessing inputs. While some service companies (i.e. software and internet based) have managed to thrive during the course of the pandemic, others have been hard hit. In hospitality and food services, 76% of surveyed firms said partial and full lockdown strongly affected their business operations.  

In relation to the key questions pertaining to COVID-19 governance, the jury is still out on whether lockdown slowed the spread of the virus, while evidence is clear that it had a disproportionately detrimental economic impact on the poor and marginalised, who have no reserve cash flows to sustain themselves.  

Ultimately, South Africa needs further fundamental reforms to achieve more robust and inclusive growth. Policies need to support marginalised communities through improved quality of education, health, transportation and an enabling business environmentIn short, this requires improved governance at every level, something which the COVID-19 lockdown appears to have simply eroded  

This article was first published in Business Day here

Sixolile Ngqwala is Data Analyst in GGA’s Governance Insights and Analysis department and holds a Masters of Commerce (MCom) in economics from the University of Fort Hare, where he was involved with the National Income Dynamics Study (NIDS) in econometric research (econometric modelling, data coding, data mining, data analysis and interpretation). He has a BCom Hon in economics, and an undergraduate degree in Business Management and Industrial Psychology.

Harnessing the elements to power and light Malawi 

Lessons from the schoolboy who harnessed the wind


In his bestselling memoir, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope(2009), William Kamkwamba laid bare the challenges faced by millions of Malawians living in rural areas without access to electricity. 

Kamkwamba’s epic memoir, in which he recounts how, forced to drop out of school at 14 because famine had ruined his family’s harvest leaving them unable to pay his fees, he used books from the local library to teach himself how to build a windmill using scrap materials to generate electricity. 

His innovation and determination to provide his village, Kasungu, with electricity and water garnered first national and then international attention. Today the teenager, whose story culminated in a book and a film (available on Netflix) is still changing lives through his Moving Windmills project. The Environmental Studies graduate and entrepreneur, and his Moving Windmills project, have a long-term plan to distribute power using low-cost technologies, which will be anchored by solar, wind and rivers (mini-hydros). 

William Kamkwamba attends the premiere of the film of his book, The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind, during the 2019 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Photo Rich Fury/Getty Images/AFP

The challenge is huge. Some 83% of Malawi’s population of approximately 19 million people lives in the rural areas. Online energy portal Energypedia noted in a 2020 report that: “Malawi’s National Energy Policy estimates that 93% of total energy demand is met by biomass. Households consume 84% of the total primary energy. A staggering 99% of household energy is supplied by biomass…. Less than 2.3% of the total national energy demand is met by electricity, 3.5% by liquid fuels and gas, and 1% by coal.”

Energypedia’s report said that only 18% of the population has access to the grid, while the almost blanket use of charcoal and firewood for domestic use is “exerting significant pressure” on the country’s forest resources.  

A 2017 study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), found that Africa has huge untapped resources for renewable energy, which must be used to meet increased demand. 

Meanwhile, the Malawi Renewable Energy Strategy estimates that the country could actually connect 27% of the population by establishing decentralised mini-grids in communities of 250 people located at least 5 km from the national grid. However, since the Malawi Rural Electrification Project (MAREP) rolled out 40 years ago, 96% of the country’s rural population still remains off grid. At the present rate, Malawi needs at least 960 years to connect every rural home or institution and achieve energy for all. 

 “I’m very interested in finding ways to use the knowledge that I have gained through my education and interacting with people to solve some of the problems people are facing in Malawi,” Kamkwamba told Africa in Fact.

Malawi’s Department of Energy Affairs agrees that the country cannot eliminate the huge unmet need for electricity by extending the national grid alone. The country’s revised National Energy Policy recognises the challenges of continually extending the grid because some rural populations live in hard-to-reach places. Instead, the policy recommends that Malawi diversify the generation and distribution of electricity by embracing the use of solar, water and wind mini-grids to accelerate rural electrification.  

“Rural access is to us still on the lower side; we wish we could have done more [by now]. The 2018 census shows that 84% of people in Malawi live in rural areas. This means we are still doing them a disservice,” Edgar Bayani, the Director of Community Energy Malawi (CEM), says. Bayani suggests that Malawi’s energy woes would be met if the government operationalised key policy documents such as the National Energy Policy, Renewable Energy Strategy and Action Agenda. 

Kamkwamba, meanwhile, is actively pursuing his ambition to assist Malawi by coaxing a cadre of youngsters to embrace innovation from a very young age. This includes the creation of an innovation centre in Kusungu, which will be a hub for “students, mentors and community to create innovative solutions to Africa problems”. 

“We talk about wind and solar because it’s a simpler and cheaper way to give us electricity and irrigation,” Kamkwamba says. “Clean water and power are our right as humans on this earth, and for too long our governments in Africa have failed to provide these things.”  

The Moving Windmills Project foundation is working with five primary and secondary schools in Kasungu to solarise their power and has installed internet-in-a-box systems, with the primary goal of bringing consistency to every school day for hundreds of students.  

“We have been able to build three classroom blocks with two classes each for the local primary school, Wimbe Primary School,” Kamkwamba says. “These new classrooms have solar panel installations that allow the students to study late into the night. We have also installed solar panels and systems in Kachokolo High School, which has allowed the students to use computers for their studies for the first time in their lives.” 

Malawi needs to invest $3 billion to leverage abundant renewable energy resources to save money, while providing reliable electricity for growth and rural electrification, according to a 2019 study by the Rocky Mountain Institute. “Malawi has an abundance of resources with which a sustainable energy sector could thrive. Ending energy poverty and ensuring that no country or person is left behind must become a priority for all stakeholders,” the study said.  

David Keith, an African energy sector expert at Tetra Tech International Development Services, agrees that billions of dollars in investment in Africa’s electricity sector is needed. “The key here is we really believe the energy sector is just another industry—it is not a government enterprise. And if we could get that sort of belief across, then governments will get out of the power business,” said Keith, who has worked on energy projects in South Africa, Malawi, Uganda, Ghana, Benin, Tanzania, and for the West Africa Power Pool.  

To augment Kamkwamba’s efforts in powering and lighting Malawi, the country’s government is now working with Independent Power Producers (IPPs) to help the country in power generation endeavours. It has engaged 14 IPP companies to generate solar power and others to use wind, geothermal, waste and coal. 

Helping to fill the energy void in his home village and lessening energy poverty, Kamkwamba’s Moving Windmills Project foundation has established a biogas digester project in Kasungu that uses cow dung to generate gas, which is used for cooking and lighting homes. It has also taught villagers how to fix water wells to avoid cultivating diseases that come from lack of maintenance. 

“Deforestation is a huge problem in Malawi, which only adds to the problem,” he said. “People cut down trees because they have no power to run electric stoves, etc. So, they use firewood. This is a problem all over Africa. The windmills don’t produce enough power to operate a stove, but with some more innovation, this could be easily solved.” 

Kamkwamba still regularly speaks at conferences and other events, where he continues to explore various renewable energy sources that could have the potential to help Malawi. 

“Africa is blessed with renewable energy and does not need fossil fuels to help people access energy and create growth, and the cost of renewables has come down significantly and is much lower than that of fossil fuels,” Mohamed Adow, the founding director of the Nairobi-based think tank Power Shift Africa told Africa in Fact. 

Collins Mtika is a Malawian independent investigative journalist and founder of the Centre for Investigative Journalism in Malawi (CIJM). He works for the Times Media Group, which publishes The Daily Times, the Sunday Times and Malawi News, for which he is currently bureau chief for the northern region. 

5th Annual GRC Africa 2020

Nairobi, Kenya – February 29th, 2012: Unidentified boys take a water for drinking on a street of Kibera on February 29, 2012 in Kibera, Nairobi, Kenya.

With the changing compliance landscape, the need for professionals with data protection knowledge has never been greater. For example, the new EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requires organisations to appoint a Data Protection Office (DPO), who will be independent and will report to the regulator. This Data Protection & Governance training will help the attendees to connect the dots in understanding all their data to govern and protect it to mitigate any possible risk. 

Good Governance Africa’s SADC Executive Director Chris Maroleng opened the 5th annual GRC Africa conference, where he dove into the different areas of governance, risk and compliance (GRC) and how to achieve the right balance between these three pillars of modern business. To watch the full video, click below:

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