Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining Bright Msaka has described the current persistent and long hours of power blackouts as unacceptable.
Msaka said this on Wednesday in Mangochi during the annual meeting of Millenium Compact, a US funded initiative worth 350 million US dollars to improve the supply and distribution of electricity in the country.
Hesaid it is sad that Malawi still lags behind in the power sector which is negatively affecting the economy.
“What the country is going through in the piower sector is unacceptable. We need to have electricity blackouts solkutions,” he said.
He said it was not understandable that Escom is failing to provide electricity to the nation yet only 10 percent of the 17 million Malawians are connected to the power whilst some neighbouring countries have a 85 percent connection rate.
“Power has been a key constraint to the country’s development. Similarly, power is a key catalyst to national development,” said Msaka .
“We consulted widely among all Malawians and came to a consensus that among the many priority areas in agriculture, health and education – the energy sector requires due attention to turn the country’s economy around,” he added.
He added that investment in the power sector has several components which include the passing of the Electricity Act which President Mutharika already assented to, unbundling of ESCOM and capacity building of various players in the sector.
Msaka observed that the exercise by the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) would be futile if the sector did not effectively engage independent power producers to fill existing gaps.
He said government is currently exploring other sources of energy in order to supplement hydro power to increase availability of power in the country.
The Minister cited such sources of energy as coal, thermal, solar, wind and hydro kinetic.
Energy expert Grain Malunga said the US funded project will only improive supply and distribution of electricity but not generation.
He said in an interview the situation would not improve even after the project finishes in 2018 because the proiblem is power generation that must be tackled to end the problem.
Malunga was fired as minister of Energy by Bingu wa Mutharika when he told parliament Malswians should accept that electricity problems are here to stay.
Escom top officials say there is no immediate solutions to the problems until rains come in December.
MCC Resident Country Director to Malawi, Oliver Pierson said the corporation was impressed with the commitment by all the partners in the sector in view of the fact that major works on extension of the power grid have taken place at; Phombeya in Balaka, Nkhoma in Lilongwe, Chintheche in Nkhata Bay and Bwengu in Rumphi.
“The corporation is satisfied with the progress the reform agenda is making to have independent power producers since ESCOM is willing to have the much needed electricity generated and have it on the grid to be transmitted and distributed to all Malawians,” Pierson said.
Speaking earlier, Chief Executive Officer for MCA – Malawi Dye Mawindo said the reforms which would also contribute to infrastructural development in the power sector would enhance electricity generation, transmission and distribution.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :