By Wahard Betha
In an attempt to regulate and reduce inefficiencies in the energy sector, the Malawi Government has revealed plans to develop a Renewable Energy Act. The Act will also go a long way in creating a fertile ground for the participation of Independence Power Producers (IPPs) in the sector.
The current IPP Framework need some improvements to set an enabling environment for various actors in the sector, President Lazarus Chakwera told the gathering in Salima when he inaugurated the 60MW JCM Power plant, the first IPPs solar project to be connected to the national grid.
Chakwera added that the Act will also address red tape and other weak governance systems to guarantee private investment security in the sector.
“For serious developers like JCM Power, who have sourced financing support from the Dutch Development Bank and InfraCo Africa Limited, as well as a liquidity guarantee from the African Trade Insurance Agency, Malawi cannot afford to have governance systems that take eight years for a project like this to move from conception to completion,” he said.
Dismayed by the red tape in government, Chakwera noted that the decision to unbundle the concentration of energy functions in the Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (ESCOM) and create separate institutions in order to make the power market more efficient, left behind loose administrative processes that were not responsive to investors.
“More needs to be done to make the administrative processes within these new entities less susceptible to political interference and human error. In short, more needs to be done to make the administrative processes within these entities faster,” he said.
Following the unbundling of ESCOM, Energy Generation Company (EGENCO) took over the responsibility of generating power, ESCOM retained the responsibility for power distribution while Power Market Limited assumed the responsibility of purchasing power,
Chakwera further called on the Ministry of Energy to be professional in handling prospective investors in the energy market so that the country can meet the target of 1000MW in the next four years.
He further advised investors who secured Power Purchase Agreements but had not started implementing their projects to pull up their socks or face consequences. “Malawians have no patience for pretenders. We want serious people like JCM has shown themselves to be,” he said.
The President commended JMC Power for promoting a green future, which fits with the country’s desire for clean energy sources.
He said despite Malawi not being one of carbon emitters, there is a need to embark on more clean energy sources understanding that the country is not spared from negative impacts of climate change as a result of the emissions of nations in the global north.
Recently, Chakwera attended the Climate Conference in Scotland where he witnessed the launch of the Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet, whose aim is to promote universal access to clean and affordable energy.
According to Chakwera, the JCM solar power plant is a potent symbol of the country’s commitment to that agenda, a commitment to building a new Malawi of access to clean and affordable energy.