Malawi is set to start getting 20 megawatts of electricity from Zambia starting this week, bringing hope that the persistent power blackouts would be minimized.
Minister of Energy Aggrey Massi said on Saturday that this follows an interconnection power agreement which the governments of Malawi and Zambia signed a month ago in Lusaka.
"The government is making strides to end the power blackouts and this is just one step among many the government has lined up," Massi said.
He said the first beneficiaries of the power interconnection agreement will be Mchinji, Lilongwe and Kasungu.
"The electricity from Zambia will start coming to Malawi on 26 October, this is good news for both Malawians and investors, this should end the power blackout nightmares," said Massi.
The interconnection power agreement comes at a time when Escom is under fire for incompetence, thefts and corruption which makes its service delivery poor.
Meanwhile, Massi said the newly introduced 'Ndawala' initiative under the Malawi Rural Electrification Programme (MAREP) would enhance and increase the number of people getting connected to the electricity grid in the rural areas.
He disclosed this at Mankhamba ground in Thyolo when he switched on Mankhamba power line, which will supply energy to villages and trading centres in the area of Traditional Authority (TA) Thomasi in the district.
"Ndawala will assist the rural people to easily get connected. Electricity Supply Commission of Malawi (ESCOM) will give a meter and assist the poor in wiring their houses and the costs will be paid through units that they will be purchasing," he pointed out.
Masi said the initiative would help most villagers who were struggling to get connected due to higher costs of electricity.
The Minister said the programme would benefit even those staying in grass-thatched houses, provided they follow procedures laid down by ESCOM and do the recommended wiring in their houses.
"We would like every Malawian to be connected to electricity. It's just a matter of going to ESCOM and ask for Ndawala application forms for them to do the rest of the work for you," he said.
Member of Parliament for Thyolo West, Charles Mchacha thanked government for considering the rural people with electricity, which would facilitate socio-economic development activities in the area.
Mchacha who is Regional Governor for the Democratic Progressive Party in the South, said the introduction of a power line in his area would reduce the number of youths who migrate to urban centres in search of employment.
"Our young people will be able to open different businesses within their communities. They will run barbershops, salons, welding shops and others," he observed.
Government is currently implementing Phase 8 of MAREP which will see 336 rural trading centres being electrified across the country.