Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining Bright Msaka has said plans are underway to ban incandescent bulbs and replace them with compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs otherwise called energy saver bulbs which are environmentally friendly.
He said CFL bulbs can help Malawians save money, use less energy, reduce light bulb changes and lower greenhouse gas emissions, which lead to climate change.
In an interview in Lilongwe this week, Msaka said the country has made significant progress in replacing incandescent bulbs as one way of fighting climate change.
“There has been good penetration of CFL bulbs in the country resulting into saving 51 megawatts (MW) during peak hours. However, Malawi is yet to effect a ban on the incandescent bulbs but plans are already underway to ban these bulbs.
“What we are waiting for is to put in place standards which are being gazetted. The standards to guide against the influx of CFL bulbs are also there,” he said.
Under a project called Energy Efficient Lighting Project (EELP) jointly funded by the Malawi Government and Britain’s Department for International Development (DfID) some three or so years ago, more than 600 000 CFL bulbs were distributed to households for free, which has reduced energy consumption.
Msaka said government has also procured bulb eaters that will be used for proper disposal of waste CFL bulbs.
“The CFL bulbs that government procured have minimum acceptable levels of mercury that is not harmful to human beings or the environment. We will continue, as government, to encourage usage of energy saver bulbs so that we not only save energy during peak hours, but also fight climate change vigourously,” he said.
Figures show that Malawi is one of the countries in the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) region with the lowest energy penetration at less than 10 percent, hence all efforts must be undertaken to reverse the trend.
“The Sadc region is an energy crisis because its energy penetration is at only 30 percent with Malawi at nine percent. Even Zambia which has a relatively lower population than us is producing more energy and we have to use all the necessary interventions to start producing more power,” said Msaka.
He said there are ongoing programme such as Malawi Rural Electrification Programme (Marep), Sustainable Energy Management (SEM), Energy Sector Support Programme (ESSP) as well as Millennium Challenge Account Malawi (MCA-M) projects which are geared at increasing energy generation and access.
“Once there is more power generated, this will cascade to the rural areas through Marep since this programme benefits from the power increase that is available on the national grid,” said Msaka.
Currently, Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) generates 351MW of power against suppressed demand at 350MW. n