Malawi has been experiencing energy challenges in the past few years. It is a fact.
Unfortunately, it is the current administration that has to shoulder the blame caused by the challenge. Before anything else, we must first ask – what went wrong? Where it went wrong, and when did it go wrong, leading us to face this problem.
Malawi’s energy (electricity) problems go as far back as the late ’80s, particularly the year 1989. Today Malawi is paying for the sins of the lack of planning by the Malawi Congress Party’s 1989 administration.
In 2009, the IAEA released a paper titled “International Atomic Energy Agency(IAEA) Tools and Methodologies for Energy System Planning and Nuclear Energy System Assessments”.
In the paper they state that “Energy planners or policy analysts design future development trajectories of the principal drivers of the energy system 20 to 50 years into the future.”
The International Atomic Energy Agency is the world’s central intergovernmental forum for scientific and technical co-operation in the energy space, especially the nuclear field.
The pre-1994 administration, led by the MCP did not plan for the demand that we have today.
Energy planning is the modelling of national energy demand and supply scenarios. This consists of looking at the future demand and supply of electricity. Balancing it against projected population growth and energy mix plus environmental factors.
Energy security has never been achieved in Malawi in the past 50 plus years. It is only from 2004, under the late President Bingu wa Mutharika that the energy generation graph showed some growth.
It is under President Professor Peter Mutharika’s administration that a solid policy of how to deal with the energy challenge was put in place.
In his 2018 SONA address, President Mutharika stated that Malawi needs not less than 2,000 megawatts in order to serve our households, serve the manufacturing industry and to start serious mining. “That is why I have directed that we must double the current power supply of 360MW to 720MW by 2020. And we must generate at least 1,000MW by 2023”, Mutharika said.
Part of the strategy to resolve the energy challenge is to diversify power generation into coal energy, wind power, solar power, gas power. Other plans include expanding the current hydro system by building more dams.
The government is also working on inter-connections with our neighbouring countries to tap power already generated out there. Zambia interconnect with the 20MW capacity has already been concluded last year. Since December 2018, the country has not experienced planned outages.
While some sectors may want to praise Joyce Banda’s administration for “keeping the lights on” during her tenure, she did so at all costs. Her dirty and forceful tactics caused more damage than solving the problem.
All that Joyce Banda did was to keep opening the gates of the barrage to force water flow to generate electricity. She did not care what happened to the severe reduction of water levels at the lake. It was an “artificial” solution designed for garnering votes.
As pointed out by the IAEA, energy planning is not an overnight process but a long-term one. Energy planning needs at least 20 to 50 years outlook due to its complexity.
The pre-1994 administration FAILED Malawians!
As President Mutharika says, “the first step towards solving a problem is to accept the problem. You cannot solve a problem by denying it.”
It is Mutharika’s administration that confronted the energy problem fearlessly and head-on. He also took the criticism that comes with the responsibility positively.
Under Mutharika, we expect that by 2023 Malawi will have enough energy to move us into the bright future of large-scale industrialisation. The economy will boom!
With Mutharika at the helm, Malawi’s future is looking brighter.
*The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Malawi24