CAMA asks Government to prioritise power generation before investing in additional electricity connections
Consumers Association of Malawi (CAMA) expresses its concern that resources are being channelled towards massive investment for new electricity connections when the current power generation capacity is below current demand.
In a public statement, CAMA’s Executive Director, John Kapito maintains that “only 12% of Malawians have access to electricity making the country one of the lowest in Southern African Development Community (SADC) region in the provision of electricity to its towards population”.
“Malawi has also the lowest electricity generation capacity and only 6% of the 12% connected to electricity are able to get real consistent supply of electricity while the rest can only access electricity for only a day or two in a week, which is made worse with the persistent blackouts and prolonged load shedding.”
Kapito thus argues that while new electricity connections is towards achieving access to electricity for as many people as possible, “connecting more consumers when the current electricity generation capacity is below demand creates a huge challenge to the new and existing consumers as they will struggle more to have access to electricity despite the massive connections”.
“It is common knowledge that our electricity generation capacity is far much below demand to create improved access to electricity. Adding more numbers to a grid that is currently unable to supply to current consumers would simply add more frustrations to both old and newly connected consumers.
“The question that Government needs to answer is, where will the electricity power come from for the new additional connections? Why can’t Government deal with our electricity generation challenges before adding new connections to a grid that is unable to supply electricity to its current small number of consumers.
“Time has come for Government to be realistic and focused other than ticking boxes in order just to meet an international obligation that demand 30% of population to have access to electricity by 2025 — regardless whether the country has enough generation capacity and whether the new connections will be able to get real electricity or not.”
Kapito further stresses that it’s not about “just putting cables on top of consumers’ roofs without electricity — there is a need to make a good balance between access and power generation”.
“CAMA would want to repeat that Malawi’s electricity access problems are not the failure to connect consumers but the failure to generate electricity. Let Government invest in energy generation now.”
In his 2023/2024 National Budget policy statement that was presented in Parliament on March 2, Minister of Finance & Economic Affairs, Sosten Gwengwe indicated that restoration of Kapichira Hydro Power Station — which lost all of its 130 megawatts (MW) it contributes to the national grid due to Cyclone Ana that devastated a lot of economic infrastructure mostly in the Lower Shire Valley — was on course as 50MW will be added back to the grid by this month end of March.
Initially, President Lazarus Chakwera had directed a deadline of December 2022 for full restoration but it was shifted to this March and Gwengwe also reported that “the Government is taking meaningful steps to improve the reliability, security, efficiency and utilization of electricity in the country”.
This include completion of 19.1 MW Tedzani IV Hydro Power project and that as of January, 19,473 customers were connected to the grid using Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (ESCOM) resources through the Electricity Access project.
“In addition, a Fund Manager was appointed to disburse loans for the rollout of solar home systems to 200,000 off-grid customers in June 2022 and the development of 75kW Chipopoma mini-grid’s hydro power plant at Mantchewe area of Livingstonia in Rumphi District, which will go a long way in transforming the lives of the people within and around the area has also been completed.”
He also reported that Government will continue implementing impactful projects under the energy sector, that include: Mpatamanga Hydro Power project; Malawi-Mozambique Inter-connector project; Malawi Electricity Access project and extension of Wovwe Hydro Power Plant.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :