President Peter Mutharika is once again making headlines in the local press. This time it’s not about rumours of him falling ill in New York but rather failing to attend a scheduled Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) meeting.
Before you ask, who the hell are MCC folks and why should we care, let me explain. These bunch of folks, are the ones who through MCA-Malawi closely worked with Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) to refurbish our hydropower plants to add 12 MW to Nkula’s generation capacity.
They are the ones who have constructed new substations and approximately 400 kilometres of transmission and distribution lines to allow for efficient transmission and distribution of power throughout the national grid.
The MCC folks are the ones who have financed the improvements in the power sector to create capacity for new connections and reduce blackouts in specific areas where outages were due to system overload.
The infrastructure improvements by MCC Compact now make possible Malawi’s future connection to the Southern African Power Pool (Sapp) so that Malawi can buy, and someday sell, power in the region.
These folks, ladies and gentlemen, splashed a cool $350 million or K265 billion on Malawi to jump out of poverty!
So if you ask me why this meeting should have been marked as top priority for our President it is because this five-year $350 million Compact agreement between the Malawi Government and the United States of America through the MCC ended on September 20 2018 and there is need to negotiate a new deal or call it a second Compact.
Other financiers have given Malawi cash before, but the MCC Compact was a life saver! The funding is huge and in a class of its own. To borrow from the Chinese, its impact ‘can be smelt and touched.’ When the Compact ended last month, the funds from MCC also dried up.
Until Malawi secures the second compact, the milestones we have made in the power sector will come to naught. Some projects might stall. The electricity tariffs will have to be doubled in future to finance Escom and its sister company Egenco.
This is why the meeting with MCC officials should have been a matter of life and death for Mutharika and his nobles. Yet, there they were, stuck in an opening session of United Nations General Assembly (Unga) listening to endless banter from President Donald Trump!
What is this inert inability for us Malawians to be on time for anything? Technocrats now have to try and reschedule the meeting. Really? How sure are we that this time around his band of aides will keep time for him?
Keeping time is a challenge here in Malawi and it pisses us on the streets off. Every time a meeting is supposed to start at 8 pm you still see people walking in lazily after 30 minutes. Some walk in and immediately go out to wait for more people to come. It’s called Malawian time.
It cost money and time!