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Political interference cripples energy sector

Newton Kambala

Energy Minister Newton Kambala Thursday cited political interference and plunder of resources at Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) as two of the factors suffocating efforts aimed at connecting consumers to the national hydro-electric power grid.

Kambala said Escom had a backlog of electricity connection requests, further indicating that the government had intervened in the issue to ensure that at least 80 percent of the applicants are connected by June this year.

He made the remarks while responding to queries from some members of Parliament, who bemoaned prolonged delays to connect facilities such as Thawale Community Day Secondary School in Dowa District to the national power grid.

“We, as a ministry, engaged Escom management and they openly said a lot of customers that paid for connection were not being connected because they [Escom officials] don’t have capacity to buy materials. And we, as a ministry, came in to assist with some funds and we rolled out the project in January this year,” he said.

Kambala said, while Escom invests huge resources in connection subsidy, previous ruling party officials took advantage of the parastatal to withdraw resources to fund their political activities.

“In the past, ruling parties largely abused Escom’s resources by funding party activities and Escom’s resource-capacity was paralysed. There were also a lot of contracts where people used to siphon money from Escom, a practice the current administration is trying to make sure does not continue,” he said

According to the minister, the government has pumped K5 billion into the initiative meant to clear the backlog dating back to 2016.

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