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Escom wants single buyer function back

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Werani Chilenga

The Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) has said proceeding with giving Single Buyer functions to Power Market Limited (PML) would hurt Malawians through high electricity tariffs.

Escom Board Chairperson Fredrick Changaya said this is Salima District during a meeting with Natural Resources Committee of Parliament members.

According to Changaya, PML would require management, staff members and even a board, which would entail more money needed for the endeavour.

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Changaya said Malawians would also pay the price of having PML through increased electricity tariffs.

“Malawi has dragged, in terms of development, because of poor decisions. Why should we have a whole parastatal with management and board to be doing clerical work which is already being done by Escom?

“Besides, they don’t have the equipment. [In terms of] all measurement equipment, such as meters; the measuring is done by the Systems and Market Operator which is under Escom,” Changaya said.

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He added that leaving an independent PML to buy power from independent power producers would lead to a situation where PML would be agreeing to buy power at a higher price than consumers can afford.

“When President Lazarus Chakwera said he wanted 1000mw [megawatts] by 2024, he did not mean expensive power. Chakwera wants the power that is affordable to Malawians.

“My heart bleeds when I see Malawi making decisions that would hurt the poorest of the poor,” Changaya said.

But Natural Resources and Climate Change Committee of Parliament Chairperson Welani Chilenga said Escom, which was established by an Act of Parliament, should learn to coexist with PML, which was also established by an Act of Parliament.

Chilenga said leaving the Single Buyer role in the hands of Escom would scare investors in the energy sector.

“It is a straightforward issue. PML is the holder of a Single Buyer licence and they should be allowed to operate. If there are issues, Mera [Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority] can issue a licence and revoke it if the licence holder is not operating in accordance with what Mera wants,” he said.

PML is a creation of the power sector reform project under the $350.7 million (K242 billion) five-year Millennium Challenge Corporation energy compact that aimed at improving power generation, transmission and distribution infrastructure.

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