Malawi told to brace for extended black out: Poised for ‘failed state’

Malawi should brace itself to continue experience serial blackouts,  Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (ESCOM) has said.Blackout

Escom said on Monday it has no immediate solution to the current  power problems.

The utility provider embarked on ‘load shedding’ process, where electricity is rationed to cope with overwhelming demand.

But Escom has said the problem will prolong as demand for electricity was very high and yet there is decreased power generation due to reduced water levels in Lake Malawi and Shire River which are its major sources of water for hydro power electricity generation.

“There will be enormous operating difficultites in the months of Sepetember to December. Lake levels will drop by early December and we will only be able to generate 135 megawarrs (MW). Load shedding is likely to increase in the months,” said ESCOM chief executive officer John Kandulu.

He was addressing journalists in Blantyre.

Meanwhile, a firebrand civil society leader has bemoaned Malawi is slowly sliding towards a failed state because offrequent blackouts and dry taps.

Centre for the Development of People (Cedep) executive director Gift Trapence said this after Lilongwe had no electricity the whole day on Sunday just for the electricity to return on Monday around 5pm.

Most parts of the Capital City had no water for close to a week.

“If this continues, Malawi will be a failed state. We are in a crisis of electricity, we are in a crisis of water but our leaders seem not to know this or they are as well helpless and hopeless,” he said.

He said the leaders should go beyond politics and fix the problem once and for all.

There are reports of investors leaving Malawi for war torn Mozambique but where there is conducive environment for doing business due to constant availability of water and electricity.

President Peter Mutharika says electricity problems will end after the Chinese fumded Kammwamba coal fired plant is commissioned in three years time.

Roughly 9% of the population are connected to the grid – in rural areas, this falls to about 1%.

The population is growing about 3% a year, meaning that every year the country is falling further and further behind.

The state utility, Escom, produces most of its grid power from hydroelectric installations on the Shire river. But falling water levels have hampered the reliability of this source.

To try and get more people on the grid the government is opening up the energy market to independent producers .

Energy Minister, Bright Msaka,  told  BBC  Newsday that this opening up of the market will make a significant difference.

He said Malawi would produce an extra 200MW of solar energy by 2019.

“We have to make sure that the people who come to invest in the power sector in Malawi are able to make a profit,” Msaka said.

“Either you have cheap power that is inadequate or you have adequate power for which you pay the appropriate price.”

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chodziwadziwa Bsc (Poly), Msc, PhD (Oxon)
chodziwadziwa Bsc (Poly), Msc, PhD (Oxon)
5 years ago

Only if the umbilical cord of Escom and Politicians is cut the electricity woes will be over. Otherwise the company management is messy because both the board members and top most management is there to satisfy their egos, stealing money and making decisions that are for the ruling party. Remember this has been the trend since UDF. Malawi should learn to leave the parastatals as independent entities look at Mera’s interest to construct its own office…the politicians are destroying our country each passing day.

be humane
be humane
5 years ago

Musandiseketse anthu inu, Kusapita kunyanja kumeneku moti simukudziwa kuti water levels in Lake Malawi ikutsika? Just make a trip and nobody will tell you. Anzanga mukufunsa ndani ngati ESCOM iri ndi strategic plan. It means you dont know koma ukulalata. Does that make sense in you? Please think of yourself before you write

5 years ago

Failure to plan is planning to fail. Escom ilibe plan ili onse yothetsera mavutowa. This blackout song tayimba nthawi yaitali and instead of improving things are getting worse. When we learn to appoint management and board members based on merit and not political patronage things will get better

5 years ago

Its only stupid people who can take ESCOM’s explaination on water level. Malawi has had black outs for over 20 years and water level issue has only been there for 2 years. Now for ESCOM to allude this to water level is absurd and insanity. Its only a stupid Government which can back this. On increased demand. I think ESCOM should have used this as an opportunity. Does ESCOM have any strategic plan? Or its strategic plan for next five years says: 1) intensify black outs to 21 hours per day, 2) Reduce number of customers to 500 countrywide, 3).… Read more »

frank khenge
5 years ago

Shire river ili ku out lake of Lake Malawi and Mu Lake Malawi Level of Water siinayambe kutsika why ESCOM kukonda kunama,Madzi achepa bwanji mu shire pamene shire ili ku Out Let of Lake Malawi.ESCOM mudziwe ichi anthu amene muku lankhula nawo ndi asukulu kuposa inu anthu amene muna phunzila ku TECHNICAL woti simudziwa PHYSICAL SCIENCE madzi ku outlet sachepa funani chifukwa china osanamidzila madzi.Chavuta apa ndi MONITORING AND EVALUATION.

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