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Escom has failed Malawi—Minister

Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, Bright Msaka, has blamed the Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) and its partners in the energy sector for failing Malawians because of failure to find lasting solutions to the current intermittent power supply that Malawi is currently experiencing.

Msaka was speaking in Mangochi where he opened the fifth semi-annual review conference for Millennium Challenge Corporation’s (MCC) electricity improvement compact.

Msaka said the current challenges in the energy sector demand relevant stakeholders to find solutions to ending persistent load shedding which he said has crippled business activities in the country. The minster also blamed his own staff at the Ministry of Energy and the Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (Mera) for employing board room tactics in ending the black outs at a time Malawians needed them to show their capabilities as experts in their fields.

“We cannot continue like this as a country. We need to begin from the end because most of the steps we are currently taking cannot, on their own, end the problems which Malawians are facing in the energy sector,” Msaka said.

Msaka also said it is doubtful that the unbundling of Escom is the solution for the challenges in the sector, challenging the experts to justify the feasibility of the current steps which he said would be futile if Malawi will still have blackouts by October 2018.

He conceded that government is equally affected with the current energy supply, such that Malawi is failing to attract investors because of the country’s profile of having unreliable electricity supply

The energy sector is our major concern for our own development as a country. Unless we unlock the potential in the energy sector, our development will not take off,” Msaka said.

Malawi is in the third year of a five-year $350 million energy sector reform project, which, among other goals, intends to develop a regulatory environment that supports public and private investment in the new generation capacity of electricity.

The project also seeks to rebuild Escom into a financially strong and well- managed utility provider in the country. MCC Resident Country Director, Oliver Pierson, however expressed satisfaction with the progress the compact has registered in the three years it has been operational.

H e h a i l e d t h e commitment which project partners such Escom have shown in addressing both the long-term and short-term challenges in the energy sector so that Malawian consumers can start benefiting from the reforms taking place in the sector.

“Over the years, the project has managed to reduce power losses in generation of electricity due to system and technical challenges. We hope the country will be able to put in place measures to generate enough electricity to fit into the grid which we expect to complete by October 2018,” said Pierson.

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