The Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry has described 2016 as a year to forget very quickly from the business angle, saying all the macroeconomic indicators such as inflation and interest rates, stayed in the negative territory.
In its inaugural edition of its monthly Business Perspective economic newsletter, MCCCI says factors that impinge upon business performance were all at work in full force in 2016.
“For an economy that is import dependent but aspires to become production and export orientated, i.e. an economy that strives to export value added, industrial goods, electricity supply and its quality must be top on its priority list.
“Electricity is an obligatory input into any process of industrialization and as such needs an actionable long haul strategy. That is not the case for Malawi despite government rhetoric, as there has thus far been much talk but less action, including shifting of blames to past political regimes, which really has not been of assistance to businesses,” reads part of the newsletter.
The private sector mouthpiece said industry in Malawi has been provided with varying explanations for the low generation levels of electricity.
“For last year it was due to low levels of water in the Shire River along which the generation plants are located, following two succeeding years of low rainfall. In other years, however, high levels of water on the same Shire River have been blamed for the disturbances in the generation of electricity.
“It is difficult to decipher which reasoning holds. On the basis of lack of uniformity in these justifications, one is tempted to conclude that leadership of the utility company called Escom is in short supply,” says MCCCI.
It added that industry has been deprived of a much needed resource which has led to a high degree of industrial capacity under-utilization for even the few remaining industries, a development that has resulted in workers being declared redundant.
Meanwhile, the Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) says it expects to diversify its power base by bringing in 70 MW of solar power from independent power producers.