Picture this: leaving the office after using electricity powered by a generator to get home to a dark house and no running water in the middle of the capital city of the country, a big shame yes? Unfortunately, this has become life in Malawi.
Blackouts and water shortages have become the norm of the day across the country. This is a very worrisome development in a country that is trying to forge ahead by becoming an importing nation as well as attracting lucrative international investments.
As much as some of the factors that influence water and electricity challenges in the country are perpetuated by natural phenomenon, for example, climate change, it remains important to treat the two as priorities if the country is to achieve the development it seeks.
What irks most citizens is that Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) and water board both collect massive revenue from the masses; even when there are shortages, the bills still come through and they keep going higher as people’s access to the services keeps going lower and lower.
Actually, in recent months, the rates have kept raising at an alarming speed. It seems like the less water we consume and electricity, the more electricity we use and the more we pay for. This is leaving a very bitter taste in the mouths of citizens. We are being served a rather raw deal.
It is a typical thing in the country for revenue to be spent instead of being reinvested and it is also a culture adopted by most to develop projects that are not sustained. Most of the facilities used by the esteemed organisations were built years ago when we had less than half the population and demand and technological advancement we have now.
The population has grown; demand has increased five- fold and technological advancement that demand improvements from the organisations have also come in. But as a country, we are failing to keep up with the changes.
Instead, people, companies and businesses are losing millions every day because productiveness is hindered by water shortages and constant blackouts. An investor does not have to stay long in the country to notice the trend and turn back.
As a country, we have failed to embrace various technological advancements because the country remains archaic in most of its infrastructure, facilities and general mindsets.
We need to make the right investments and priorities for the betterment of the country. Availability of electricity and water is crucial to the welfare of the country at large and survival of the private sector and companies and businesses that are the backbone of the economy.
Projects that foster development in these two sectors should be a priority for government and everyone else involved and affected. It is rather futile to be building majestic buildings and universities when the country can hardly meet its water and electricity demand. And mind you, it is less than a quarter of the population that even have access to safe water and electricity.
The country is, at this point, supposed to be reaching out to the rest of the masses that have no access to be able to access water and electricity rather than failing to provide even for the tiny fraction that has access.
On the other hand, we need to adopt alternative solutions to our challenges and adopt them really fast. I would reckon at this point solar panel subsidy can serve the country better than other unsustainable subsidies. Installation of solar energy is expensive for the average citizen and yet the technology can go a long way in improving loss of millions and productive hours.
It should also become a norm for people constructing houses and for companies constructing new compounds to have boreholes, reservoirs and smart pit latrines within their compounds that will come in as alternatives in time of a shortage crisis. We need to face reality and embrace available solutions.
I rest my case.
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