Malawi eyes industrial growth

The country will by the end of next year tap power from Zambezi in Mozambique. This follows a power sharing memorandum of understanding the two governments signed in 1998, but had not been implemented. The Malawian Minister of Economic Planning and Development, David Faiti told journalists that his country was gearing itself for industrial growth. “Power is the key to industrialisation. Many industrialised nations have used power to trigger development and Malawi should do the same to achieve a substantial industrialisation,” said Fati. He said the Malawi-Mozambique power interconnection, which is a concept under the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad) will provide a back-up to the country’s power plants whose power generation capacity is not enough to meet the ever-increasing demand for electricity in the country. The minister said because of this, government had found it imperative to rehabilitate Tedzani power station to enhance its power generation capacity. Faiti said increasing access to electricity would also provide a long-term solution to deforestation; a problem government is fighting hard to address. The deputy minister of mines, natural resources and environment, Jimmy Banda, said the Malawian government had also banked its hopes on the Japanese funded rural electrification programme expected to enter phase four shortly. “We have identified 240 sites as beneficiaries of phase four of the rural electrification project,” said Banda. “This, coupled with the Mozambique-Malawi power interconnection, will make us realise our dream of accelerating electricity accessibility levels in the country currently hovering at around 7 percent.” According to Electricity Supply Commission of Malawi (Escom) acting chief executive, Kandi Padambo, the power sharing agreement will see Malawi importing between 50 and 100 Megawatts from Zambezi in Mozambique. Currently Escom has four power generation plants, namely Kapichira with a power generation capacity of 64,8 megawatts, Wovwe with 4,5 megawatts, Nkula A and B with 124 megawatts and Tedzani 1 2 and 3 with 106,7 Megawatts. Meanwhile, Botswana has been hit by theft of condoms that are supplied free, to sale them locally and elsewhere, much to the chagrin of the Population Services International (PSI) Botswana branch. PSI country representative Soumitro Ghosh said at annual stakeholders’ meeting recently that there was need for a strategy to control the problem. PSI has been in Botswana for the past 13 years. It supplies free condoms in public places. Ghosh said the free supplies are meant for people who cannot afford to buy condoms, to make them affordable to everybody as efforts to curb the spread of the deadly HIV/Aids continue. He said another challenge faced by PSI Botswana comes from delays in procurement of condoms, which subsequently causes a shortage. Ghosh said that the high advertising costs affect their frequency and exposure of HIV prevention messages, which in turn slows down the pace of behaviour change. However, he said PSI would have to strengthen its existing HIV/Aids prevention programmes and abstinence, fidelity and alcohol abuse activities.

April 2006
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