As Malawi grapples with a power crisis partly caused by years of insufficient investment in infrastructure that is heaping more pain on the country already ailing economy, an economist has warned of far more negative implications for the nation if there will be no solution in short term.
Every day the nation is experiencing blackout with some parts having electricity shortages up to 25 hours.
After years of failed management and corruption at state-owned entities, there will be no quick fix for electricity woes, the nation learnt from President Peter Mutharika after meeting Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) and Electricity Generation Company (Egenco), pleading for patience for the public. Instead, supply will remain severely constrained into next year and beyond.
Economics Association of Malawi (Ecama) president Henry Kachaje said “it is obvious that power is very critical and central to our economic development and the current outages are going to negatively affect the private sector, specifically the manufacturing sector.”
Kachaje said in quotes reported by The Nation newspaper on Wednesday November 1 2017 that the country has already started experiencing cement scarcity and other manufacturing issues.
“So this is going to have a negative impact in terms of how we can progress and grow,” Kachaje said.
Kachaje noted that Malawians are living on the edge as continue power outages will affect growth of industries which will have to incur high production costs, result on low profits and job cuts in the process.
But Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe struck a reassuring tone, saying the country is banking on agriculture to register an economic growth of over five percent.
“The interesting thing is that because agriculture did particularly well this year, our growth rate is higher than what we expected it to be. It will be beyond the 5.5 percent and it seems agriculture did well besides the armyworms incident,” Gondwe said as quoted by The Nation.
He said as President Mutharika outlined, the nation has not been maintaining electricity infrastructure since independence 53 years ago and “it has caught up with us and it is retarding our production. We are doing something about it.”
In an editorial comment, the paper pointed out that government seems to be playing “a grooved song” on power outages.
The paper said government talking about interventions will not change anything but they want authorities to take “bold steps and walk the talk”
It pointed out that “Malawians are fed up with empty promises.”
Meanwhile, the power generation woes have moved from bad to worse with a loss of 20 megawatts (MW) within a week.
Escom said in a statement on Tuesday that it is currently accessing between 145MW and 150MW against average demand of 300MW.
“The country is experiencing frequent load shedding of electricity due to shortage of electricity available for distribution to customers, “ reads the statement.
Egenco boss William Liabunya however conceded that plans to buy generators would be “just” a quick-fix solution not an alternative.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :