Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining Aggrey Masi on Friday told Parliament that the prolonged blackouts in the country will be dealt with by end of this month.
The minister, however, conceded that the problem is huge and might not be contained within the prescribed time frame. As such, he was optimistic that by mid-January 2018, people will see a change in the availability of power in the country.
Masi was responding to a question by Dowa North MP Enos Chatatanga, who wanted him to explain the contradictions on when exactly the prolonged blackouts will end in the country.
The legislator observed that President Peter Mutharika promised the nation during the opening of the 47th session of Parliament last month that the power outages will be contained by the end of December. But Electricity Generation Company (Egenco) chief executive officer William Liabunya told the media last month that the blackouts will ease in March next year, after all diesel-powered generators, expected to generate 46 megawatts (MW), will have been commissioned.
The MP told the House that this is confusing, hence it is important that the ministry clears the contradictions.
Said Masi: “What Egenco said is true. Theirs is the 6 megawatts genset that has arrived in the country. The other genset for 30 megawatts should be in the country at the beginning of January or February. That is why they [Egenco] were talking about March.”
The minister also explained that Escom will be adding another 55 megawatts between end of December and mid-January and that the timing of the arrival of the gensets is what is creating the confusion.
Malawi Congress Party (MCP) chief whip Robin Lowe, however, tried to school the minister, arguing that the core problem of the power outages in the country is the political interference in Egenco and Escom.
But Massi dismissed the statement, saying the two companies are independentof any external forces.
On October 25, President Mutharika made a surprise visit to Escom head office in Blantyre, where he attended a board meeting and later told the nation that power supply in the country will improve soon.
Two weeks later, some concerned citizens presented a five-point petition to Escom offices at City Centre in Lilongwe, demanding answers on the prevailing power outages that have stalled economic activity.
A number of sectors have greatly been affected by the blackouts, including the manufacturing industry. This has, among other things, driven the price of cement—a critical component in the construction sector—up, a development manufacturing firms have attributed to rising cost of production due to power outages.
The rise in the price of cement has also come at a time one of the country’s cement manufacturers, Mangochi-based Cement Products Limited (CPL), has stopped producing the substance due to unavailability of clinker, which the company imports from Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE).