Local engineers should provide solutions to problems communities face by improving their living conditions, president of the Southern Federation of Engineers Organisations (Safeo) Zimbabwe-based Martin Manuhwa has said.
â€œHowever, first is to identify the problems in the communities and understand them from the view point of the local people, which must be followed by designing appropriate solutions,â€ said Manuhwa in a speech at a recent ninth annual engineersâ€™ conference.
He told the engineers that nobody would come from somewhere to provide effective clues to development, stressing that problems in Malawi shall be solved by Malawians.
â€œYou should, therefore, not stop on the potential projections that are currently on the drawing table. Drive the process until they become a meaningful investment contributing to the growth of Malawiâ€™s economy and improved well being of Malawians,â€ he advised, at a function themed â€˜Engineering the Transformation of Malawiâ€™s Economy from Net Importing to Net Exportingâ€™.
He said the common challenges engineers are likely to face may include bringing the projects to maturity in time before the innovations are eaten up by other emerging competing alternatives.
On his part, David Mzandu noted that the engineering profession has been instrumental in driving socio-economic development of societies since the early civilisation.
â€œTo transform Malawi from being a net importer to a net exporter, we need to identify engineering solutions to bail the country out of her economic problems by enhancing the engineering potential options already on the ground, but are not fully developed to impact the economy significantly,â€ he said.
He observed that through engineering innovations, solutions have been identified and are being developed. Among some of the innovations include, geothermal energy, slow speed wind and solar power generation and biogas energy generation.
But he bemoaned that some solutions have remained at research (laboratory) level and are not well known to Malawians, yet, if fully developed, Malawi stands to benefit economically.
Malawi has been lagging behind in terms of energy generation, but Mzandu said the country is endowed with a wide variety of energy resources despite full potential of the energy sub-sector remaining far from being realised owing to a number of structural, operational and institutional challenges.
â€œThe provision of energy in Malawi is inadequate, unreliable and inaccessible to all who need it largely on account of lack of competition in the sector, non-functioning power plants and inability to generate sufficient amounts of energy,â€ he said.
The Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) has an installed capacity of 287 megawatts against the suppressed demand of more than 300 megawatts and this result in the company rationing power through blackouts that are a thorn in the flesh of businesses and households.
Engineering solutions through alternatives such as wind, solar and biogas energy generation can bring hope to Malawiâ€™s economy which could result in the reduction in the number and duration of blackouts and increased access to reliable and affordable electricity in rural areas.
This could satisfy the needs of high growth sectors such as tourism and mining, which are not developing at the required pace due intermittent power supply.
Malawi Institution of Engineers (MIE) president Dr Matthews Mtumbuka said engineers have identified several projects that could help the Malawi economy grow since they have expertise to support the economy.