Cabinet has approved the much-awaited National Energy Policy (NEP), which promises to increase access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, efficient and modern energy services.
However, stakeholders in the energy sector say the policy should deliver on its promises.
Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining spokesperson Saidi Banda said in an interview on Tuesday the review of the 2003 National Energy Policy was necessitated by several reasons, including the fact that the policy had outlived its five-year lifespan and had several shortfalls.
“For instance, the 2003 National Energy Policy had no implementation as well as monitoring and evaluation plans. There was also need to align the revised National Energy Policy with Malawi Growth and Development Strategy [MGDS III], Sustainable Development Goals [SDGs] and the United Nation’s Sustainable Energy for All Initiative and to factor in reforms in the energy sector,” he said.
Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources and Climate Change chairperson Victor Musowa on Tuesday said the policy review was long overdue, adding that what is need is implementation.
“The importance of this policy cannot be overemphasised. Currently, Millennium Challenge Account [MCA] has helped us in putting connecting lines. This positions Malawi on the drive to achieving the universal access to energy.
“We, therefore, need to do our part to ensure that plans lined out in the policy are achieved. We will work with government to bring the policy to communities so that they know the contents,” he said.
On his part, Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) chief executive officer Chancellor Kaferapanjira said in an interview the policy brings a number of promises, and energy as key to industrialisation in the country, implementation of the policy is crucial.
“Industrialisation is not taking place because we do not have energy. People have resources and other economic indicators notably interest rates are taking a good direction, but in the absence of energy, industrialisation in constrained.
“Where we are going, we have to ensure that production of energy is environmentally-friendly. We thus commend government for incorporating alternative energy sources in the policy,” he said.
The policy, which succeeds the 2003 NEP, has identified electricity, bio-mass, petroleum fuels, bio-ethanol and other bio-fuels, liquefied petroleum gas, biogas and natural gas, coal, nuclear energy and demand side management, as priority areas for actions.
It comes at a time the country is facing acute power supply challenges with hydro-electric generation capacity reduced to below 200 megawatts (MW) which is anchored by diesel-powered generators installed in the country’s three cities.
The new energy policy has since set out updated goals, objectives and strategies on sustainable and reliable energy provision that will catalyse industrialisation and modernisation of the economy, social and gender inclusion in energy programmes and achieving universal energy access in line with the SE4ALL and United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
It also aims ensuring cost-reflective pricing with internationally acceptable returns on investment, promotion of regional power interconnection, reducing the impact of climate change on energy, promotion of efficient biomass stoves and biomass briquetting.
Over the past five years, MCA-Malawi, which is implementing a $350.7 million(K256 billion) energy compact between the governments of Malawi and the United States’ (US) Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), has made some strides in strengthening the nation’s power sector.
Through the energy grant, MCA has undertaken some power sector reforms which include the unbundling of the Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) into two entities —Escom and Electricity Generation Company (Egenco).