President Lazarus Chakwera yesterday gave Minister of Energy Ibrahim Matola up to June end to provide clarity on the relationship between Escom and Power Market Limited (PML) on the single buyer function.
The President gave the order in Dedza when he commissioned the $33 million (about K33.1 billion) 20 megawatts (MW) JCM Golomoti Solar Power Plant.
Chakwera said if the issues are not resolved, the country runs the risk of having functional power plants that do not supply electricity to the population.
He said: “Reports of Independent Power Producers [IPPs] being frustrated or not being assisted in their quest to explore power purchase agreements with our government leaves a lot to be desired.
“Now, I wish to inform the Minister of Energy that the last thing we need in this country are independent power plants like this one sitting idle because of government bureaucracy.”
There have been protracted disagreements between Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) and PML over the single buyer function, which is supposed to be undertaken by PML according to energy laws, but Escom is yet to transfer the same.
Chakwera said the matters were already settled by law and the Ministry of Energy should identify who is blocking the implementation of a settled policy and ensure the resistance is thwarted.
The JCM Solar Power Project, a utility-scale solar and battery project, is touted as the first of its kind in Malawi and the largest in the sub-Saharan Africa.
JCM Power chief executive officer Christian Wray said the continuous improvement of the energy situation in Malawi is of critical importance to the economic development of the country.
He said: “We are humbled and honoured to be playing a role in creating change in Malawi. We hope to continue to play an important part in the development of the power sector in Malawi into the future.
“We are diligently working on new projects for the country, including expansion opportunities at both Salima and Golomoti as well as new projects utilising different renewable technologies.”
Acting British High Commissioner Fiona Richie urged the government to sort out the roles of Escom and PML over single buyer function, saying British investors and others are concerned about the status.
The project was co-developed by JCM Power and InfraCo Africa, part of the Private Infrastructure Development Group.
JCM is an international IPP headquartered in Toronto, Canada.