Over 25,000 applicants are on the waiting list for connection to Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) power and the corporation is planning to contract private companies to help it clear the backlog of applications.
Escom’s director for distribution and customer services, Peter Mtonda, said in an interview in Salima that the corporation was worried that the length of time it was taking for applicants to be connected to power could breed corruption between prospective customers and its members of staff.
He was speaking on the sidelines of a meeting of the Standards Committee of the Power Institute for Eastern and Southern Africa (Piesa).
“We have decided to start outsourcing new connections in order to clear the backlog. Once we clear that, we will resume handling of the services on our own,” said Mtonda.
He attributed the delayed connections to procurement problems, saying the system was not orderly enough to ensure all necessary equipment like transformers, meters and others are available at the same time.
“We are working on our procurement system to make sure that when we are importing equipment and spare parts, it should be a complete set of all what is needed to connect customers,” explained Mtonda.
Although Escom has a service charter that stipulates times lines of when specific services will be delivered, these have hardly been met and Mtonda attributed this to procurement and importing challenges the company has been experiencing.
On the standards committee meeting which he officially opened, Mtonda said the purpose of the meeting was to develop a framework of standards that should be adopted for power utility companies in the Southern African Development Community (Sadc).
He said these will help improve operations of the companies by, among other things, ensuring availability of equipment and spare parts.
“Even procurement of goods within Piesa member countries will be improved. It will also reduce procurement lead times by minimising procurement queries from suppliers due to shortfalls in technical specificat ions,” said Mtonda