The persistent electricity blackouts are unleashing serious knocks on the country’s economy and the power supplier, Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) says it has registered a K536 million ($974,545) loss in revenue in August and September this year only.
Escom’s load-shedding programme, which is sometimes implemented due to over-flooding of the power generating source, the Shire River, or low water levels during dry season or when the machines are undergoing maintenance, is here to stay until water levels improve in the next rainy season, according to Escom.
On the receiving end, however, stands the industry—the heartbeat of Malawi’s economy—which is losing billions of kwacha due to power outages and a common person who is accessing power intermittently.
Escom public relations manager Kitty Chingota said in an interview on Tuesday that out of total capacity of 351.74 megawatts (MW), Escom was generating 340 MW, the maximum available.
Chingota said the low water levels is attributed to climate change as the region is experiencing high temperatures that have not spared power generating operations in countries such as Tanzania, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Chingota said: “The other contributing factor to low power generation is construction works at Kamuzu Barrage in Liwonde. This is where we have our first gates, where we regulate the water flow.
“Although we had enough rains, but we were forced to release a lot of water between February and March to allow a contractor of the bridge to work on it. This meant we were depleting a lot of water from the reservoir; hence, the situation we are in today.”
But Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) president Newton Kambala said in an interview on Wednesday that Escom’s blackouts were not the only setback on the economy.
Kambala said even if Escom were to supply power enough for the industry and domestic use, most manufacturing companies would still not be able to go into full production or produce at all because the “economy is simply bad”.
The MCCCI president said there was no buying power as most Malawians face difficulties to borrow money from banks as government is irresponsibly borrowing for consumption purposes as leaders have failed to create an environment that can employ people.
Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) executive director John Kapito said in an interview it is high time authorities improved way of doing things since the current situation, where Escom is failing to supply power to full capacity, is not inspiring.
Kapito said businesses are suffering and no development can be achieved at the present rate.
He said after heavy rehabilitations of its machines at Nkula, Escom assured Malawians in February this year that blackouts were a thing of the past, wondering why this remains the case now. n