DfID withdraws Malawi aid on energy saver bulbs

The British Department for International Development (DfID) says it has decided to withdraw £50,000 from the Energy Server Light bulb Programme following the unexpected revocation of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Government of Malawi and the Consumer Association of Malawi (CAMA).

CAMA was selected by the Government to prepare and implement a marketing campaign to highlight the benefits of energy efficiency measures and to encourage consumers to conserve energy.

DfID and the Malawi Government launched the Lighting Efficient Energy Programme (EELP), a joint initiative to distribute free energy saver bulbs.

Kapito: CAMA boss

The British aid agency procured two million bulbs at 3 million pounds from Phillips out of which 1.3 million will be distributed for free to residential customers, small enterprises and public buildings and 700 000 sold to commercial and industrial customers at K300 each.

It is hoped that the programme will save up to 20% of peak demand for electricity – an important contribution whilst the Government of Malawi puts in place plans to increase the country’s generation capacity.

After substantial preparatory work undertaken by CAMA, the Government revoked the MOU with the consumer watchdog  and did not give adequate justification for this action.

CAMA is headed by John Kapito, a fierce critic of President Bingu wa Mutharika, who was arrested recently on trumped up sedition charges.

DFID said in a statement that it “deeply regrets” the withdraw of the MOU and has taken the decision “to no longer make available the £50,000 that would have been spent on an energy efficiency marketing campaign. “

However, DFID says it remains committed to the programme’s overall objectives and will be providing the rest of the promised funding for this project, working with the remaining implementing agencies, the Ministry of Energy, and technical consultants, to ensure the safe installation and use of high quality energy saver bulbs.

Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Environment Goodall Gondwe said when he launched the programme that the complete installation of the bulbs within six months, the country would experience reduced frequency of blackouts.

Power supplier, Escom has always argued that using energy saver bulbs reduces the lighting loads and, apart from that, the customer benefits in terms of reduced bills as compared to incandescent bulbs.

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