On 26th January, 2016, the CONREMA information sharing platform was officially launched by the Department of Energy at Golden Peacock Hotel in Lilongwe.
The launch brought together more than 60 stakeholders from different government Ministries and OPC, the private sector, civil scociety, academia and media.
The launch had been co-planned and supported by the offices of Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, Mr. Ben Botolo, and Chief Director Mr. Kester Kaphaizi.
While important meetings were underway in Blantyre regarding the Millenium Challenge Compact on the same day, the event was blessed with Deputy Director of the Department of Energy, Mr. Lewis Mhango, who opened the function with a dedicated speech regarding the power of coordination and the importance of the information sharing platform for a very wide range of stakeholders in Malawi.
Master of Ceremonies, Deputy Director of Energy, Mr. Topham Sukasuka, guided the participants through the day. After a short history of the network by Renew'N'Able Malawi's Projects Coordinator and initiator of the platform, Ms. Martina Kunert, three representatives of community led entrepreneurial energy projects in Thyolo and Phalombe Districts shed more light on how a network like CONREMA can not even help on the policy, planning and mangerial level, but also support the people invlved on the ground to share best and bad practices and helps to link up with partners, suppliers and potential supporters.
The CONREMA secretariat team then led the conference participants in a lively "roleplay" through the components, functionalities and usage of the online platform. Many participants signed up to the platform "live" during the conference.
Afterwards, participants brainstormed on the benefits of the platform for different stakeholder groups that are involved directly or indirectly in the energy sector. A very engaged and interesting discussion with inspiring ideas and valuable comments on how to further develop the network transpired during the session. Especially the question how this important initiative will be sustained and in future and how the Government will support the same, but also the aspect of collaboration with existing networks, like clear mandates for each of the networks and associatons and their cooperation with the CONREMA information sharing platform as a "one-stop shop" was high on the agenda. Kunert reconfirmed that the intention of the network was clearly to close a gap in the sector rather than duplicating efforts or mandates of others and hence the CONREMA secreatariat would very much embrace if other Secretariats would acitvely seek close common planning and potentially collaboration on activities which can then be effectively shared with stakeholders in the sector, thus enhancing outcomes, visibility of implementers, and scaling up of successful approaches.
Assistant Director and Public Relations Officer of the Department of Energy, Mr. Joseph Kalowekamo, closed the event with a speech calling for participants to use the platform for enhanced coordination. In an interview with the local radio and TV journalists Incl. MBC TV, Kalowekamo emphasized how the platform will support Government in the planning and future implementation of renewable energy projects.
The CONREMA secretariat is currently mainly driven by voluntary commitment, attachment students and part-time staff and looking for financial support to extend the functionalities and scale up its operations to fulfill functions that will support faster and better informed, hence more efficient energy sector development in Malawi.
Many thanks to all colleagues at the Department of Energy involved in the preparation and successful running of the launch fucntion, to all active participants, and to all who will in future promote the platform development through sharing the platform with other, as well as their constructive ideas and suggestions for improvement.