A news story claiming that Malawi will be exporting electricity soon shocked Malawians.
The story that was covered by the state broadcaster in Malawi on electricity raised eyebrows among citizens with one Journalist Upile Kaisi writing on her social media platform that ‘it is the joke of the millennium.
The reaction to the news show how people doubt whether the reports could come true at a time when the country is facing hiccups to supply electricity to its citizens.
Citizens in Malawi are experiencing the worst power cuts in history as some residents are going over 24 hours without electricity.
Authorities disclosed that the country needed over 300 megawatts for its citizens to have power all day everyday but the water levels in Lake Malawi halts the maximum capacity of the hydropower machines that generates electricity.
Then government disclosed plans to install 36 megawatts from generators with 6 megawatts generators installed in Mzuzu costing K587 million per month on diesel purchase.
Government through Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (ESCOM) also disclosed plans to have additional 70 megawatts from solar power.
But why the doubt?
According to United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Power Africa Fact Sheet on Malawi, 10 percent of the population access electricity with majority of people in the rural areas having 5 percent access to power.
The statistics show that Malawi has a long way to go in solving electricity challenges, but the coming in of Power Africa Support to fund Malawi with $1.6 million in 2016/17 fiscal year to support Millennium Challenge Corporate (MCC) Malawi Compact brought hope that power cuts are to be in the history of the country.
Through the MCC compact, the US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) awarded a grant to Malawi’s Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining division to boost the energy sector with hydropower plant at Luweya River in Nkhatabay district.
The US intervention on energy sector in Malawi was good news to the country that has been experiencing challenges on electricity but there are fears that the project could be halted.
The US Ambassador to Malawi Virginia Palmer said the country risks losing funding to boost energy sector due to rise in corruption cases in the energy sector.
Palmer told the local press some days ago that her country will be left with no option than cutting funding on energy sector in Malawi.
This reaffirms citizen’s doubt on whether Malawi is to be an electricity exporting nation soon.
However, Renew ‘N’ Able Energy Malawi (RENAMA) Advocacy and Communication Officer Wonderful Mkhutche disclosed that the country can export electricity in the future.
“Yes, if we as Malawians we focus on our renewable energy potential, we can be a power exporting nation one day. There is potential in this from our geography and natural resources. If we can exploit that we will have enough power for ourselves as well as for those who may need it outside our borders,” said Mkhutche.
But as it stands, Malawi has a big task on electricity amid other socio-economic challenges that the country needs to look at hence dreams of exporting power to neighbouring countries like Zambia and Mozambique that already produce thousands of megawatts are farfetched.
The rapid population growth that the country has, means the country’s demand for electricity is to go high as more businesses are to be needed that depend on electricity for citizens to earn a living.