Government has disclosed that it will extend the Malawi Rural Electrification Programme (MAREP) Phase 8 program from June to December 2018 to allow for the electrification of areas that have since not benefited from the initiative.
Marep Phase 8 is scheduled to wind up its activities on 31st May, 2018 after successfully lighting up 336 sites.
Speaking Saturday when he switched on Marep 8 Chinguluwe Power Line at Chinguluwe Primary School ground in Senior Chief Kalonga’s area in Salima, Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining Aggrey Massi noted that access to electricity by rural communities was key to their economic wellbeing.
“Electricity enhances economic activities both at household and national levels thereby making people to have more money in their pockets to improve their livelihoods,” said Massi.
He added that it is not enough to have electricity installed in various areas and leave it untapped. Massi, therefore, urged communities to apply for power connection in their homes to the power supply entity, Escom.
On the frequent blackouts, Massi assured the people that government was making efforts on short, medium and long term basis to make it a thing of the past.
“The procurement of the generators is meant to serve as a short-term measure to the problem while in the medium and long term measures, government is working on rehabilitating Nkula power plants and wooing investors to come and invest in the power sector,” Massi said.
Principal Secretary in the Energy Ministry, Patrick Matanda lauded the role members of parliament play in ensuring that the rural setting benefits from the Marep program.
“I must commend our legislator for the efforts they make in ensuring that their areas are connected to electricity grid,” Matanda said.
He, however, advised members of the community to use experts when wiring and fixing electricity cables in their homes to avoid accidents.
Member of Parliament of the area, which is Salima Central, Felix Jumbe appealed to Escom to minimize the time they take to respond to people’s requests for electricity.
He observed that the longer the period Escom takes to respond to people’s requests for electricity the more retrogressive it becomes to the efforts government is making to ensure that more communities have access to electricity.
MAREP started way back in 1980 with Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi ( ESCOM ) as the implementing agency through donor and own financing. Later on, government took over implementation of the program in 1995 and the Department of Energy (DOE) was appointed the implementing agency.
The objective of MAREP is to increase access to electricity for people in peri-urban and rural areas as part of Government’s effort to reduce poverty, transform rural economies, improve productivity and improve the quality of social services.