The Energy sector in Kosovo and the region deals with a number of difficulties, one of them being corruption

Prizren, 9 August 2016 - In a debate organized on the XV Edition of Dokufest, the Kosovo Civil Society Consortium for Sustainable Development (KOSID) gathered experts of energy issues from different countries of the Western Balkans, to discuss about corruption in the energy sector. Western Balkan countries face many challenges in order to have sustainable and affordable energy for their citizens. However, corruption remains as one of the main obstacles, which is keeping the sector volatile and undeveloped.

Rinora Gojani, from KOSID, stated that investments in new capacities should be seen as necessary measures for the country's energy security. "Diversification of energy sources in Kosovo should be viewed as an adequate measure for economic development. Currently, Kosovo’s government does not possess a valid energy strategy and furthermore, there is a lack of an idea for a sustainable development strategy for this sector. Kosovo needs to open the market for the energy sector, which will increase competitiveness and hence, eliminate the monopoly and potentially eliminate corrupt affairs,” said Gojani.

The representative from Serbia, Mirko Popovic, said that fossil energy is not the future of the energy sector of the European Union states, so the same should be applied for the Western Balkan countries. "The misuse of institutions and public funds for investments in the energy sector is hampering the change of the energy production model in Serbia, and also in other countries of the region. Production of electric energy from lignite, has created a vicious circle which besides causing damage to the environment and health, it also provides opportunities for the development of a market led by state monopoly. Therefore, the solution to these problems is the development of energy networks between the countries of the region, implementation of projects for renewable energy production, and compliance with norms and standards signed in the Treaty of the Energy Community," said Popovic.

Leila Bicakcic from Bosnia and Herzegovina, said that although Bosnia is rich in diverse resources for electricity generation, this does not present a solution to stop corrupt practices that are present in the country. "Unfortunately, like many countries in the Western Balkans, Bosnia possesses a high level of poverty, therefore, government officials and other relevant actors, are covering corrupt agreements in the energy sector, on the grounds that they will provide employment opportunities for their citizens. This not only causes damage to the national economy as a whole, but also allows inadequate use of energy resources. Above all, given the political dominance, only strict rule of law can provide solutions to the problems of corruption in the region," said Bicakcic.

Whereas, the representative of Albania, Gjergj Erebara said that Albania is rich in hydro-power production, however this is not necessarily good news. "No sector in Albania possesses more means for investment than the energy sector, but confrontations and problems with corrupt essence still appear. The current issue which is revealing corrupt practices in the country is the construction of the hydro-power plant in Vlora 5 years ago, which is not yet operational, while the taxpayers continue to pay for its construction. As a solution to these problems, I see the provision of opportunities to buy clean energy from different producers, where every citizen would have the opportunity to produce electricity from panels located on their roofs, while the surplus would be sold in the network. This provides a solution for eliminating monopoly, and the integration into an expanded market, since there will be millions of producers and millions of consumers," said Erebara.

The moderator of this debate, Haki Abazi said that although energy is a specific field, it is cross-sectorial and links the state with various relevant stakeholders, thus, transparency to the developments in this sector, is the key to the current problems. The event was followed with discussions by the participants, concluding that investments and projects in the energy sector in the whole region, are marked by numerous corruption practices which have resulted with a high cost on the expense of the citizens, and in numerous cases, have also driven away serious investors in the field of energy.

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