Editorial CommentOpinion & Analysis

So, these blackouts are man-made?


If there is one thing the Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) has mastered is keeping the nation in the dark, literally and metaphorically. This is very ironic for an institution that exists to give us light.

For as far as memory reaches, Escom has stammered to pronounce its motto of ‘Towards Power All Day Every Day’. Actually, the past months have been the worst, with electricity supply being more off than on. Simply put, we are a nation in darkness.

For a while, Escom has laboured, albeit in vain, to give us a myriad excuses as to why we have these irritating and costly blackouts. The excuses have sometimes been coated in technical jargon as well as bold confessions that the corporation simply does not have a clue on how to give us power.


During the rainy season, Escom’s excuse has always been siltation of its pumping station while, during the hot season, the excuse is always receding water levels. Whichever way, we still do not have electricity.

But from the information that we have, it is clear that the reason we have no power all day every day is beyond siltation and low water levels. There is something serious behind these power outages.

Here is the story. As early as April, Escom foresaw that, due to the hot season in October, it would be difficult to generate electricity because of the water levels. So, the way out was for Escom to “hire” power generators to make up for the loss of normal generation of power. There are five months between April and October which means that, if the process of “hiring” the said generators was not marred by some irregularities and prohibitive forces, we could not have been having these blackouts now. But something happened.


After the tendering process was done, Escom suddenly realised that it had no mandate to hire power generators since we have the Energy Generating Company, which is mandated to do so. What followed was contractual mess, with the initial winner of the bid, Aggreko, insisting to proceed with the supply while other bidders pressed for an explanation as to why they were not awarded the contract, forcing the government to cancel and restart the process. The cancellation is very suspicious.

But from all this mess and blatant incompetence of our institutions, we have been made to live with blackouts all day every day. What is all clear here is that there is some force that messed up the whole deal just for selfish benefits. In the end it is the nation that is bearing the hot end of the rod. Companies have been forced to cut down on production, lives have been lost in hospitals while homes have been affected as well due to these man-made blackouts.

The biggest questions that we, as Malawians, must have are; are we going to let this continue? Why must we forever be made to pay for some people’s carelessness and greed?

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