By Blackson Mkupatira – Mana
Government has begun engaging investors in the energy sector to discuss means of generating affordable and reliable electricity in the country.
Minister of Energy, Newton Kambala said the country is failing to develop as foreign companies fail to invest in the country because of power shortage and corruption among other things.
He was speaking on Thursday, when he toured Ruo-Ndiza and Muloza Power Stations in Mulanje which are managed by Mulanje Hydro Limited and Cedar Energy Limited respectively.
“This is why we are at Ruo-Ndiza power station to see how best we can improve on this so that the number of Malawians with access to affordable and reliable electricity rises from 10 percent to 30 percent,” Kambala said, adding that this would attract investors and bring lot of transformation development wise.
He expressed worry that out of the 10 investors that have shown interest in the energy sector in recent years, only three are eager to progress.
“The rest have not done anything since their contacts were awarded and let me warn that if nothing is done in the coming two months we will have to invoke their licenses because Malawians cannot keep waiting for long,” the Minister said while commending Mulanje Hydro Limited for generating power while pointing out areas that needs improvement.
“We noted that we don’t have enough water flow which is affecting your power generation capacity as lm told the design of the power station is 8.2 megawatts but currently you are doing less than one megawatt which is a huge setback,” he said, while suggesting the need for the plant to have a water reservoir.
“As an engineer, I would like to see Malawians access affordable source of energy. In other countries they pay as low as five cents per Kilowatt/hour where in the country, we pay up to 13 cents that’s why as the Energy Minister l will make sure the country is moving towards that,” he added.
Kambala said there was need to diversify in terms of energy sources as one way of reducing costs of energy in the country.
He appealed to consumers to consider using Liquidized Petroleum Gas (LPG) for cooking instead of always using electricity and if the use of LPGs is increased, we would reduce demand of firewood and charcoal.
The Minister said the competition would bring low prices.
Managing Director for Mulanje Hydro Limited, Ian M’Kersie said despite generating low power in the dry season, the power plant supplies enough electricity to tea processing companies in the district since it became operational nine months ago.
“This time of the year, we have low power and when the rain is back, we have full power. This is a very good match for the tea business because that is when they also need high voltage,” he said.
M’Kersie disclosed that the Mulanje Hydro Limited was planning for another project which would be completed by the end of 2021 saying they are just waiting for approvals.