Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) says the $150 million (about K123 billion) loan Malawi Government secured from the World Bank will help to boost distribution network to connect more Malawians to the national grid.
Escom acting chief executive officer Clement Kanyama told a news conference in Lilongwe on Friday that the concessional loan will enable the power utility to implement the Malawi Electricity Access Project (Meap) from March this year.
He said out of the $150 million loan, Escom will be responsible for $105 million (about K86 billion) while the remainder $45 million (about K37 billion) will be a responsibility of the Malawi Government.
Kanyama said: “Malawi Electricity Access Project is an intervention prepared by the Government of Malawi to increase the number of people having access to electricity.
“The loan’s last to withdrawal date is June 30 2024 and the aim of the financing is to fast-track connecting Malawians to the grid. The processes are underway and the needed equipment is arriving in the country.”
He said the project will boost the country’s electricity coverage from the current 11 percent to 30 percent in line with Malawi 2063, the country’s long-term development plan.
Kanyama said through the Meap project, Escom will connect over 90 000 customers annually up from the current 60 000.
He said the current distribution network remains minimal at 12 400 kilometres, adding that an ideal distribution network was supposed to be four to five times of the current coverage.
Minister of Information Gospel Kazako said electricity remains critical for economic development, as such, government is working hard to increase access for both household and industrial use.
“We are not happy as government with the current state of electricity production which is quite low. We cannot attract serious investors with current electricity supply because energy is key for private sector investment,” he said.
A recent study by the Economic Commission for Africa found that Malawi and four other African countries have either stagnated or reversed in electricity access.
The study titled ‘Energy Prices in Africa: Transition Towards Clean Energy for Africa’s Industrialisation’ showed that Liberia, Malawi, Central African Republic, Burundi and South Sudan have not made much progress to ensure the majority of their citizens have access to electricity.
The report showed that Malawi is one of the least electrified countries with 42 percent of the urban and only four percent of the rural populations connected to electricity.
Countries such as Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopia reportedly have huge electricity access deficits, according to the study.
The report recommends that countries should provide an enabling environment for crowding-in private sector investments in electricity sector, apply cost- reflective tariffs while paying attention to efficient generation of electricity to lower the costs.