Only 65 out of every 100 residents of Blantyre District have access to the national hydro-electric power grid, The Daily Times can reveal.
But Blantyre District Council Director of Planning and Development, Francis Matewere, said they are not satisfied with the penetration levels and have put in place strategies that would ensure that all the residents have access to electricity by 2022.
The council is responsible for the social-economic development of rural areas of Blantyre, whose population is estimated at over 400, 000, according to the National Statistical Office.
Matewere said the development also threatens the environment as people are forced to use firewood and charcoal for cooking; hence, the need to take advantage of Malawi Rural Electrification Programme (Marep) Phase 8 extension to include more trading centres for possible electrification.
He made the remarks on Saturday when Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, Aggrey Masi, switched on electricity at Michiru in Blantyre Rural West Constituency, as part of the programme.
“Most areas are still not accessible and we are taking this commissioning of Marep [phase] 8 as an opportunity for those areas to get power. So far, we have submitted 10 centres from Blantyre West to be considered for the extension programme, which will start from June to December this year,” he said.
On his part, Masi said Marep seeks to promote access to electricity for rural and peri-urban communities to transform rural economies.
He said Marep Phase 8, which aims at electrifying 336 trading centres in the country, would be done by May this year, before extending the exercise to about 168 new centres across the country.
“In the short term, the government, through Escom [Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi] and Egenco [Electricity Generation Company] have come in with investors such as Aggreco who have brought in 55 megawatts and, shortly, other megawatts will be added like 23 in Kasungu. Egenco has added 6 megawatts in Mzuzu and 15 in Blantyre and another 20 will be added at Mapanga by mid next month,” Masi said.
Parliamentarian for Blantyre South West, Peter Kumpalume, said it is disheartening that electricity cables pass through his constituency but community members do not reap the benefits of that.
Marep Phase 8 was launched by President Peter Mutharika on April 5 2017 at Ngolowera Primary School in Mulanje District.
Malawi’s demand for power is at 360 megawatts against installed power supply of about 351 megawatts under normal circumstances.
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