Twin State-owned power utilities Electricity Generation Company (Egenco) and Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) yesterday engaged civil society organisations (CSOs) and pledged that power supply will improve by January 2018.
Escom and Egenco made the assurance in Blantyre yesterday during a meeting with CSOs to share progress reports towards addressing the problem of prolonged blackouts that have virtually crippled the economy.
The meeting also provided CSO leaders, led by Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC), an opportunity to present their views to stamp out the power outages. There were 38 CSO representatives in attendance.
The meeting took off to a volatile start when Escom director of human resources and administration Daphter Namandwa said no discussions would resolve the problem of power generation as it has been worsened by environmental degradation, turning perennial rivers into seasonal ones.
His sentiments angered some CSO leaders who demanded an explanation from the two companies on efforts being undertaken to address the challenges.
Egenco director of operations Rex Muhome cooled down the tempers when he assured the CSOs that they were working tirelessly to ensure that the country is provided with adequate power.
He said Egenco has put in place short-term measures, including installation of up to 90 megawatts (MW) of diesel generators expected to be operational by January next year to complement the available power.
He also said the long term plans include the implementation of Tedzani IV, Kholombidzo and Mpatamanga hydro-electric power stations which will be producing about 872 megawatts by 2026.
But CSOs representatives demanded justification for the choice of generators at the expense of solar energy. They argued that other countries were phasing out diesel generators because of their negative impact on the environment and operational costs.
But Muhome said there is no need to worry as the generators were only for two years.
During the meeting, the CSOs also accused Escom of being political, nepotistic and corrupt, factors, they argued, have crippled its service delivery.
They also challenged Egenco to think outside the box by coming up with a mechanism to reuse the same water and control the flow of water from Shire River to the Zambezi River in Mozambique.
HRCC board chairperson Robert Mkwezalamba said the CSOs will wait for the timeframe the two companies have given to address the blackouts problem.
He said the CSOs will be moved to act if Egenco and Escom fail to fulfil their promise.
On why they did not attend demonstrations against continued power outages organised by activist Billy Mayaya in Lilongwe, Forum for National Development national coordinator Fryson Chodzi said initially they all agreed to attend the meeting first.
CSO representatives at the meeting included Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) executive director John Kapito, Malawi Congress of Trade Unions (MCTU) president Luther Mambala, Passengers Welfare Association (Pawa) president Don Napuwa and Unandi Banda.