Paraffin imports dropped by 67 percent in 2015, signaling reduced desire for the commodity as a source for energy, according to the Malawi Government Annual Economic Report 2016.
Paraffin seems to have been substituted by other forms of energy for lighting such as rechargeable lamps that have proliferated the local market, the report suggests.
The report, which is compiled by Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development shows that paraffin imports have been declining in the last decade.
Figures show that the gas fell from 1.5 million in 2014 to 506 304 last year.
The decline was also evident in 2013 as imports for the gas also fell markedly to 1.7 million from 6.5 million in 2012.
Spot checks in Limbe established that key among goods stocked in some shops whose owners are either of Malawians or Malawians of Asian origin are rechargeable lamps and it seems most Malawians are opting for the new source of energy.
A trader in Limbe Vijay Desai said his business is thriving because he sells rechargeable lamps which are on high demand.
He said: “It was two years ago when I saw that the rechargeable lamps are selling like hot cakes and I said to myself, why not try them.
“My customer base has grown since and I have both retail and wholesale customers.”
The same is the case with Chifuniro Masache, a vendor who buys in bulk and sells them at retail price.
“I have a shop where I sell groceries such as sugar, bread and other minor groceries. But looking at the market demand, I thought of bringing these lamps to meet the ever-growing demand of these items.
“On a normal day, I sell not less than 10 lamps. Meanwhile, I am planning to start selling the same at wholesale at my home village in Nkando,” he said.
Malawians have for some time been using candles and paraffin lamps to light their homes at night due to the low levels of penetration of electricity currently at 10 percent which is also not reliable.
A resident of Chiwembe Township Ellen Mlongoti said lamps are safer as compared to candles.
However, in rural areas paraffin is still the ideal source of energy. because it is relatively cheaper. n