Power all day, party all night!

Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) has finally succumbed to public and consumer rights pressure and changed it’s slogan from Power All Day, Every Day to Towards Power All Day, Every Day. A rarity in Malawian corporate history? Can’t really tell being in a society that rarely takes service providers to task for poor service.

So what does this change mean? To me it practically means nothing. Escom board chair Davies Katsonga said, and we have heard it all before, that once Kapichira and Tedzani II power plants are up an extra 40 megawatts (or there about) of power will be added to the power grid and reduce, if not eliminate, power shortages. I however take issue with that assertion. Currently there are many households in the country without power and not for dislike of that source of energy. It is because Escom simply just can’t supply! I tend to believe that the extra 40 megawatts may go someway in addressing current usage problems but does not take into account the currently unconnected and those still constructing.

I have argued before on this blog (New Year, same old power problems) that Malawians need to look to other sources of power like solar, bio-gas and possibly wind. Others have argued for nuclear power. My suggestion may be crazy since they are not backed up by any research whatsoever but imagine if all factories in the country used part of their huge roofing surface areas to install solar panels for lighting purposes within their facilities and fed the excess to neighbours? Imagine if every new household was encouraged to install solar water heaters that would have been either subsidized or been untaxed by government? How about if commercial structures used either natural air conditioning methods or some other natural cooling methods? For the amount of investment being put into factories and commercial structures, a solar investment is not too much to ask for and neither should a subsidized geyser for a residential property. If everyone made small changes like these, we could improve the current situation.

The other issue that seems to dog Escom is it 2008 K80 million end of year party. For arguments sake let us say that the corporation has 5,000 employees. This would translate that a whooping K16,000 was spent per head for this party. Now unless each employee was treated to a dish of caviar and a bottle of the finest French bubbly, the figure just does not add up. I have always had my doubts that all that money was spent on Christmas crackers. Don’t ask me what my suspicions are as am not about to reveal them.

So this year Escom has indicated that it will go ahead and organize yet another end of year party, much to the outrage of certain sections of the public. I personally feel every institution needs a little celebration and staff networking and parties are one of the best ways to achieve this. After all all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy! Let them celebrate but this time with locally produced sea food and beverages – as tax payers we won’t accept another outrageously expensive gig!