Disappointed. Stupefied. Baffled. Hopeless. Futureless. Angry. That is how Abiti Joyce Befu, MG 66 and the Most Excellent Grand Achiever-MEGA 1; Nganga Maigwaigwa, PSC (RTD); the Most Paramount Native Authority Mzee Mandela; Alhajj Mufti Jean-Philippe LePoisson, SC (RTD) and I, Malawi’s only Mohashoi, feel here in the land of marshes and swamps.
We are disappointed because when our government announced the decoupling of Escom’s generation and distribution department to form two companies, we, the optimists, thought a panacea to our daily power outages, as blackouts are euphemistically called in the power world, would finally come to an end. However, few were we, the optimists, and many were they, the skeptics.
We are disappointed because it would appear that the skeptics have carried the day and the night. Many were their arguments at the time the decoupling was announced. Principal among them, were that the splitting of Escom into two companies was simply meant to create more opportunities for people linked to the people in power. The skeptics argued that creating two companies meant having two boards of governors or directors; two chief executive officers; two this and two that. The most crude and infuriating among them even compared Escom to a lean cow in lean months being suckled by two overweight calves.
Other skeptics argued that without Egenco generating power, Escom would have nothing to distribute. And that is exactly what is happening. Escom is waiting for power from Egenco. And that is why we are disappointed. We are also disappointed that Egenco is using the same Lake Malawi water level argument, blaming the same Lake Malawi water level phenomenon, and not its own incompetence and inbox thinking.
We are stupefied and baffled because there are countries in the world without any lake or river but have electricity all day and all night. To generate power we need good water flow to drive the turbines. Yes. However, in this day and age when countries are talking about clean energy one would have expected Egenco to have already silently planted solar panels and diesel generators. Today Egenco should have been informing us how much power had been added to our national grid.
We feel hopeless because we have a team of power generation engineers and energy policy makers who believe imported coal-power is the future. What if Mozambique does what it did with the Nsanje Inland Port or simply bans the exportation of coal out of its territory, will Egenco’s Kammwamba Coal Powered Project still stand?
That is why we, as born and adopted Malawians who have vowed to live in this country, eat here, work here, get sick here, die here, be interred or cremated here and of course, resurrect here, feel futureless. The way Egenco and its sister, Escom, think and work shows that we are a futureless bunch of magical bloodsucking believers and blame-signposters. Even after resurrection, our lot will be the same: poor.
We are angry. Extremely angry. We are angry because Egenco and Escom seem not to know what works and what does not work. This is where, teachers, engineers, cooks, thieves, sex workers and even witchdoctors excel. They learn from experience and work to never repeat the same mistake and give the same lie.
Between 2012 and 2014, even before Egenco was C-sectioned out of Escom, Escom generated and distributed enough power ‘all day and all night.’ Outages were occasional, accidental, excusable and justifiable. 12 hour, 14 hour, 23 hour outages were uncommon. We are angry because Egenco does not seem to know how this feat was achieved. Check the 2012-2014 files and see what made Escom work successfully then.
In short, and this is a directive, Escom and Egenco should revert to the 2012-2014 plan and give us power hic et nunc. We are tired and angry at being fed with the same story all day and night. Whether the power will be bought from Mozambique, Tanzania or Zambia, let it come. After all Escom, before Egenco was born, used to generate enough power and feed parts of Mozambique and Zambia. Further, how power is generated is not our problem. So taking non-governmental organizations and civil society organisations on paid tours of Egenco problems in the hope that we will forgive and forget the problem at hand is a waste of time and an insult. As prepaid customers and heavily-taxed poor Malawians, all we want is power. Today. And not tomorrow.