Concerted Efforts Needed to Redress Electricity Challenges

Escom Toor

In light of extensive load shedding that the country is experiencing, MERA Board Chairperson, Rt.  Rev. Dr. Joseph Bvumbwe visited Nkula and Kapichira Hydro Power Stations to get first-hand information on the challenges facing Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi Limited (ESCOM).

The main challenges facing ESCOM are: insufficient generation capacity; environmental degradation; effects of climate change and aged equipment.

Some of the mitigating measures that ESCOM is pursuing are: investment in diesel powered generation, demand side management by procuring low power light emitting diodes, and importing power from Zambia and Mozambique.

“The country’s over reliance on hydro power is now raising serious question,” remarked the MERA Board Chairperson at the conclusion of his visit to the two power stations. “As ESCOM is making every effort to minimize the impact of challenges on consumers, there is need for enhanced stakeholder cooperation in the quest to find and implement sustainable solutions.”

The Chairperson cited environmental management and water harvesting as some of the areas that require multi sectoral coordination.

It is expected that the government-led power market reforms will facilitate an enabling environment for private sector participation in the electricity sector and help increase access to reliable electricity. As a stepping stone, the recent passing of the electricity amendment bill creates a conducive environment that can accommodate Independent Power Producers (IPPs).

In contribution to the creation of a framework for IPPs, MERA has developed new regulatory tools aimed at leveling the playing ground for all operators in the electricity supply industry; encouraging the rule of law and increased confidence among investors; and improving efficiency and quality of service. The tools were developed through a consultant and with financial assistance from the Millenium Challenge Account Malawi.

The regulatory tools are available here.