There is growing fury and desperation among Malawians over the recent intermittent power outage that is substantially impacting on households and businesses.
In recent months, Malawians have endured combined long hours of blackouts that are unleashing serious knocks on them due to diverse faults and rationing.
The development has compelled some people to call for a complete overhaul of Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) management for what they call substantial failure to find a lasting solution to persistent power failure.
In its newspaper advert on loadshedding three weeks ago, Escom indicated it had moved from the three-shift to two-shift load shedding that puts people in darkness for nearly 10 hours.
The corporation is reportedly producing around 200 megawatts (MW) of electricity against suppressed demand of 350MW.
But the blackouts are likely to squeeze Malawi as the sole power supply is scheduled to shut down its Nkula A hydro power plant in February 2016 for massive rehabilitation works.
In random interviews conducted by The Nation, Malawians expressed their anger at government for continuously placing its trust on an “incompetent” Escom management to run the sole power utility which is the hub of the business sector that relies on continuous supply of power.
Economics Association of Malawi (Ecama) executive director Edward Chilima said the blackouts are very expensive and they create inconvenience to household as well as businesses.
“This does not give any hope at all and cannot attract any serious investor to a country where half of the day it is in darkness,” he said.
While indicating that it is difficult to outrightly quantify the immediate economic loss resulting from power outage, Chilima said the long term effects will be horrendous.
Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) president Newton Kambala observed that businesses were negatively affected due to huge losses as a result of blackouts.
He said some companies were being punished by paying employees who most of the day do nothing.
Already the power outages has forced other companies like Raiply Malawi Limited to shut down some of its plants due to extensive load shedding and reported loss of about K1.6 million (about $2,508) every day.
But Escom public relations manager Kitty Chingota said until water levels improve power failure will persist.
“The water levels are still very low as such we are still experiencing low water flow. So until the water levels improve the situation will continue,” she said.
Despite erratic supply, in October Escom hiked its electricity tariffs by about 14 percent. n