If the Zaev years were marked by a strong push from politically linked businessmen and Zaev’s own family members into marijuana growing, now the new lucrative field of choice seems to be energy imports.

Macedonia is in a deep energy crisis, with domestic electricity production in collapse due to mismanagement and corruption in the state owned ELEM/ESM company. The shortfall is made up by extremely expensive imported electricity, and family members of key politicians are rushing to line up deals, after setting up import companies. Another popular business is solar farms, a line of business preferred by current Prime Minister Dimitar Kovacevski. Kovacevski was co-founder of the Pixcell solar panel company, which has received lucrative contracts from state owned companies after he became Prime Minister. Kovacevski formally sold his share in the company, but the other co-owner Goran Paunov has recently set up a solar energy production company with Kovacevski’s wife Elena. The board of the company includes other family members as well as the wife of SDSM party official Boris Tundzev, who is director of the Cadastre Agency.

This prompted criticism in the public that the Prime Minister is directly raking in profits from the collapse of the industrial scale domestic energy production, which is forcing businesses to purchase solar panels from his former company and the Government to sign contracts with solar producers at inflated prices. VMRO-DPMNE Vice President Aleksandar Nikoloski directly accused the Government of neglecting and holding back domestic coal and energy production, to create more demand for imported energy that goes through politically linked companies.

The Zaev family drew scrutiny after his barely of age son Dusko Zaev set up a company for energy imports. Meanwhile, Zaev’s brother Vice and father Pance registered a new company named “Solar Green Energy” in Strumica, meant for electricity production. A close associate of Zaev’s Goran Mitrov, who followed him in the marijuana business, is also now planning to put solar panels on the marijuana fields – he also set up a “green energy” company near Strumica. Other solar entrepreneurs in Strumica are the Krstev family and Drgan Gjorgjiev, who are also close to Zaev, and also dealt with cannabis oil under his regime.

Zaev’s former Deputy Prime Minister Koco Angjusev is also adding solar capacity to his already existing small hydro and biogas. He announced partnership with a Bulgarian consortium to build a 400 MW plant

Albanian politicians are keeping the pace. Former Deputy Prime Minister Musa Xhaferi, who leads a faction in the DUI party, helped his son Arijanit enter the energy trading business. Arijanit Hoxha is best known in the public for his attack on Marko Bislimoski, head of the RKE energy regulator, allegedly because he was delaying the approval of some of Hoxha’s deals.