We want to end blackouts once and for all – Chilima

Vice President Saulos Chilima says government is putting in place mechanisms that will ensure the end of blackouts and the availability of surplus power which will ably sustain the manufacturing industries in the country.

The Vice President said this in a Facebook post on Wednesday after meeting Electricity Supply of Malawi (ESCOM) and Energy Generation Company (EGENCO) management.

He said the joint meeting with the top officials of ESCOM and EGENCO is part of the government’s bid to ensure that there is stable and uninterrupted power supply in the country.

“We are devising a 24-month plan with EGENCO and ESCOM to ensure that the current stable power supply maintains or further improves. The ultimate goal is to ensure that within the same timeframe, there must be surplus production of power that will ably sustain the manufacturing industries.

Participants during the meeting with Chilima

“We are putting mechanisms in place that we will be making public sooner or later to ensure that issues of interrupted power supply are completely dealt with once and for all. This notwithstanding, we will also review all the interventions at hand to make sure that they make financial sense to the economy in the quest for power generation,” said Chilima.

He, however, noted that the two companies are also facing challenges.

On the part of EGENCO, Chilima said the company presented a number of challenges choking its operations which include billions of unpaid electricity bills sold to ESCOM; the non-conclusive unbundling process that has left EGENCO without legal title of assets; high operating costs from running diesel generators; and environmental degradation of the Shire Valley catchment area that has had adverse effects on its generation operations.

On its part, ESCOM – mentioned challenges such as the K1.8 billion average monthly bill which EGENCO charges. ESCOM feels the charge is not sustainable.

The power supplier also mentioned non-payment of bills by some Government Ministries and Departments and loss of investments due to rampant vandalism among other legal and financial challenges.

According to Chilima, the challenges the two parastatals have presented will be resolved by next week,

“All the challenges that they presented today will be dealt with at a decision-making meeting that I will hold together with other government stakeholders with the two institutions so that we must all go to work as soon as possible,” Chilima said.

Malawi has been experiencing power challenges for several years and the situation worsened in 2017 when there were power outages lasting over 22 hours.

Earlier this year, there were blackouts lasting four hours a day for several weeks but currently Malawians are enjoying 24 hours of power.H