Government has blamed the National Oil Company of Malawi (Nocma) and forex shortage for the fuel scarcity in the country, arguing that the State-owned company delayed processing of the 2023/24 fuel supply contracts.
Minister of Information and Digitisation Moses Kunkuyu told a press briefing in Lilongwe yesterday that contracts of two suppliers expired in August last year and after exhausting their volumes, two remained.
Said Kunkuyu: “The remaining two suppliers could not sustain the country’s demand and that is why we are in this situation. For a good three months, from August 2022 to somewhere in November, there was nothing being done to start the procurement process until mid-December when Nocma advertised for the bids.”
According to him, if Nocma started the procurement process on time, the new suppliers could have been engaged by January this year and the fuel shortages could have been avoided.
He further said that shortage of foreign exchange has compounded the problem such that officials from Malawi went to Tanzania to negotiate for the country to be sold the commodity even in the absence of the foreign exchange.
Said Kunkuyu: “We need the forex to buy fuel but currently we don’t have enough foreign exchange, so we had to discuss with those who give us the fuel on how we will be paying.”
The briefing was jointly held with Minister of Energy Ibrahim Matola, Principal Secretary for Energy Alfonso Chikuni and Nocma acting chief executive officer Reuben Micklas, but the others did not say anything.
Meanwhile, Kunkuyu has given assurance that the fuel situation is expected to improve from Wednesday next week.
He explained that at least 494 000 litres of fuel was received yesterday by Petroleum Importers Limited (PIL) and distributed to filling stations.
According to Kunkuyu, PIL is also loading 1.3 million litres of fuel from Beira Port, which is expected to arrive in the country from today and tomorrow.
The minister also indicated that another 5.5 million litres of the commodity is being loaded from the port of Dar es salaam and is expected to arrive in the country from Monday next week.
He said Nocma is also loading 1.9 million litres of fuel from Beira Port, which is expected in the country on Monday next week while a total of 21 million litres is expected the same week.
A fortnight ago, Nocma issued a Notice of Intention to Award Fuel Contracts for the 2023/24 period to four suppliers.
Out of the four, HAPCO FZE is the newest, and another, Camel Oil, has been retained from the previous contracts.
Nocma extended delivery period of fuel supply contracts awarded to Lake Oil Limited and Camel Oil (T) Limited which expired in September last year to the end of February 2023.
The two other suppliers Addax Energy SA and Augusta Energy have been engaged by government before