Government has spelt out plans to prioritise poor citizens in the free electricity connections programme, the Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) has announced.
During the 2020 presidential election campaign the Tonse Alliance team now in government promised to introduce free electricity connections, a policy which technocrats are now working on. The y also promised to introduce free water connections.
Addressing the media in Lilongwe yesterday, Escom acting chief executive officer Clement Kanyama, flanked by Minister of Information Gospel Kazako, said the free electricity connections will roll out towards the end of the year.
Kanyama said: “When people talk about free connections it means there are some customers who if we don’t give them an opportunity to connect, may not have their own resources to pay for Escom to connect them.
“The vision of the government says electricity is no longer a privilege; it is a right. In other words, those who would like to use electricity in their day-to-day activities should be given an opportunity to access it”.
He said experts at the Ministry of Energy are consulting stakeholders on the financing modalities of the policy and once finalised, an official announcement will be made.
As a starting point Kanyama said Escom already has the Malawi Electricity Access Project and the Malawi Rural Electrification Programme which are reaching out to the vulnerable with free connectivity.
He said between 2018 and 2021, Escom received 258 000 power connection applications out of which 163 000 have been connected and 95 000 are on the waiting list.
kznyama said out of the 95 0000 applicants, Escom intends to connect 40 000 by June this year and the remainder in the next half of the year.
He bemoaned rampant vandalism of Escom equipment which has seen 120 power transformers vandalized, leaving such areas in the dark and requiring Escom to reinvest substantial amounts of money to bring back power.
Kazako said electricity is essential for economic development which is why his government is working hard to increase access for both household and industrial use.
He said: “We are not happy as government with the current state of electricity production which is quite low. We cannot attract serious investors with current electricity supply because energy is key for private sector investment”.
The minister said in line with the Malawi 2063, the country’s long development blueprint and the recently launched two-year Covid-19 Social Economic Recovery Plan, energy will be key to achieve the targets.
Currently, according to the Ministry of Energy, electricity coverage is around 18 percent with 12 percent supplied from the national grid and six percent through off-grip solar power.