The Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) has described the extended load-shedding hours recently effected by Escom as an added cost to the business.
Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) is rationing power due to reduced generation capacity from the potential demand of 351 megawatts (MW) to 216 MW. This is due to electricity supply challenges with hydro-electric generation capacity which has reduced to around 177MW and 38.4MW for the diesel-powered generators installed in the country’s three cities.
MCCCI chief executive officer Chancellor Kaferapanjira, in an interview on Monday, said power outages have taken a heavy toll on industry resulting in reduced output, revenues and profit.
“We already reached critical levels and the industry is crippling with the inadequate power supply. What is worrying most now is that it seems we are moving backwards.
“We have heard talks of an additional 20MW to be imported from Zambia, but in my view this is just a drop in the ocean,” he said.
Kaferapanjira said the chamber is failing respond to calls by authorities to take advantage of the lower interest rates, adding that businesses cannot borrow for investment in an environment where there is no power.
Addressing a news conference in Blantyre last week, Escom chief executive officer Allexon Chiwaya said the power supplier is getting low electricity supply from Electricity Generation Company (Egenco) which is the main source of electricity in the country.
As a result, he said, the utility has been forced to increase load-shedding hours from the initial six hours a day to around eight to 10 hours a day, warning the situation may prolong due to delayed start of the rainy season.
Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) has since asked Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (Mera) to explain the current situation in line with the promises Escom made when effecting a 20 percent tariff hike on October 1 this year.
“We were given an assurance by Escom that electricity supply will improve in due course, but instead we are seeing the opposite of this.
“Escom effected new tariffs on the basis that electricity will improve, but what we are getting is something else. We are, therefore, expecting Mera to address and justify the tariffs we are paying as a regulator,” said Cama executive director John Kapito. n