President Joyce Banda yesterday spoke strongly against power supplier, Escom, for failing to provide enough energy to Malawians and investors leading to the economy to operate for only nine hours per day.
“I am aware that many people and companies have not been able to access electricity from Escom despite either applying for connections or even paying deposits for such connections. This is unacceptable,” she said when she commissioned Kapichira 2 Project that adds extra 64 megawatts to the grid at Bwalo ground in Traditional Authority Kasisi, Chikhwawa .
The President also lamented the fact that many projects in the country have been put on hold because of lack of electricity, citing the heavy mineral project in Salima and bauxite mining in Mulanje.
President Banda then asked Escom, the sole electricity generator, transmission and distribution firm wholly owned by government, to be innovative and transformative.
On the commissioning of Kapichira 2, President Banda boasted that the project did not come by accident, chance or mere good fortune.
“It is a result of careful planning and diligent execution that we are now seeing some of our plans come to fruition,” she said.
She added that government plans to commission new plants every five years.
She also stated that government has decided to diversify from hydro electricity generation by constructing thermal-powered plants at Kamwamba in Neno.
Government is also implementing the electricity interconnection project with Mozambique, she said.
The President said the commissioning of the Kapichira 2 brings the country’s electricity generation capacity to 351 from 287 megawatts. The country needs at least 350 megawatts at peak.
She explained that before 2012 there were a number of challenges in the energy sectors citing inadequate investment and maintenance; inadequate capacity to generate and transmit and distribute electricity which led to intermittent power supply.
Minister of Energy Ibrahim Matola said Malawi’s access to electricity is one of the least in the world at nine percent.
He said electricity should not be seen as a luxury but rather a necessity to spur economic growth.
He stated that with the additional 64 megawatts into the national grid, blackouts have reduced drastically.
Escom chairperson Morgan Tembo said the company has a four-year strategic plan to add 100 megawatts to the national grid.
On the persistent blackouts the country experienced before the commissioning of 64 megawatts, Tembo said the experience scared away investors and tarnished the corporate image of Escom.
But Tembo has noted that electricity transmission to the central and northern regions will still face some problems.
He, however, said there are plans to upgrade the transmission lines.