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Power crisis worries AfDB

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The African Development Bank (AfDB) has said Malawi is failing to develop different sectors of its economy because of current power problems.

The bank, which is one of the biggest financiers of development projects in Africa, says insufficient electricity is constraining economic growth and innovation in the health sector apart from the manufacturing sector which is traditionally known to be the biggest victim of power outages.

According to the bank’s Acting Director for the Southern African Region, Kennedy Mbekeani, energy is regarded as a lifeline of economic development.

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He was speaking in Lilongwe yesterday at the opening session of the Energy Financing Seminar, a follow-up to the recent Malawi Investment Forum which the country hosted.

Mbekeani said investments in the energy sector will transform Malawi’s economy and he has since called on all partners including government and the private sector to do their best to develop the sector.

AfDB Resident Representative, Andrew Mwaba, said countries within the region need to significantly develop other sources of energy generation apart from hydro-electric power (HEP).

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“Hydro electric power cannot be sustainable, so the bank is working with stakeholders and countries to bring other sources including wind and solar energy and also to encourage climate financing,” Mwaba said.

He further challenged private sector players to approach the bank so that they can access its finances and invest them in the energy sector, saying governments on their own cannot manage to optimally develop the sector.

Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, Bright Msaka, said the seminar by AfDB is crucial as Malawi has just liberalised the power sector with the aim of increasing the country’s current power generation capacity and expand the transmission and distribution network.

“The electricity situation in the country is dire… As of now, we are generating electricity below the current electricity generation capacity of 357 megawatts against the current peak demand of 430 megawatts due to effects of climate change,” Msaka said.

He added that the effects of climate change have affected hydropower generation not only in Malawi but the entire Southern African Region.

The objective of the seminar, among others, is for the AfDB to disseminate information on their range of financing products, credit enhancement and risk mitigation products, initiatives and programmes for the energy sector and how government and the private sector can access these opportunities.

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