The Malawi Government is keen on expanding its access to energy being one of the five priority areas in the 18-month long Economic Recovery Plan (ERP), President Joyce Banda said on Monday.
Speaking at the three-day 2012 World Energy Forum (WEF) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Banda said her government recognises that demands for energy are significant in quantity and in the pace the country needs it to grow.
Churning out available figures, the President said Malawiâ€™s current peak suppressed demand for electricity is 350 megawatts, but the countryâ€™s sole power supplier, Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) only produces 283 megawatts, adding that only six percent of the countryâ€™s population is electrified.
â€œDue to increased prospects in the mining sector, the demand for electricity is projected to increase to 740 megawatts by 2015 and nearly 1400 megawatts by 2020,â€ said Banda.
â€œMalawi also needs a faster shift in the mix of energy we use to ensure they are sustainable. This involved creating alternatives to fuel wood that make up 90 percent of the total energy utilised in Malawi today,â€ she said.
Finding alternatives, the president said, involves substitutes to hydropower such as solar, wind, thermal and geo-thermal for electricity generation given that 98 percent of Malawiâ€™s hydro power comes from one river, Shire.
Other alternatives include expanding the production of 18 million litres of ethanol for blending with petrol and the planned five million litres of Jatropha oil by 2015 for blending with diesel.
Currently, available figures from the Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (Mera) indicate that blending ratio of ethanol and petrol is at 20 percent.
But energy experts argue that if the blending ratio is increased, Malawiâ€™s monthly fuel import bill currently hovering at $35 million (K11 billion) could be drastically reduced.
Realising the daunting task, Banda said government has an energy policy that seeks to make the energy sector sufficiently robust and efficient, enhance a more liberalised, private sector-driven energy supply industry and transforming the countryâ€™s energy economy from one that is overly dependent on biomass to one with high modern energy component.
The WEF 2012 is taking place for the first time outside the United Nations headquarters in New York, USA. Dubai was chosen as the venue for the event because of its geographical and strategic location, its status as a global hub of finance, business, trade, energy and tourism and also because of the political stability of the UAE.
Held under the patronage of His Highness Shaikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice-president and prime minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, WEF 2012 is taking place at a time when the UAE and Dubai authorities have taken major initiatives to diversify their energy resources by adopting clean and green energy solutions.