Thursday, January 24, 2008
I have been here for a year and half now. But yesterday was a different day. We had a substantial power cut from 1.00 pm to 5.00pm. Something which has never happened before (at least for the period I have been in Gaborone). I understand that South Africa's ESKOM is load-shedding its electricity distribution within South Africa and indeed to its neighbouring countries which import their electricity from them.
Apparently, the electricity demand in South Africa and indeed in its neighbouring countries like Botswana, Namibia, Swaziland and Lesotho is also growing. This means that supply is being surpassed by demand. And South Africa would like to take care of her needs first.
Yesterday's power cut reminded me of the various load-shedding programs we sometimes endure back in my beloved home country, Malawi. The load-shedding programmes are normally due to the high demand for electricity for domestic as well as industrial use. I strongly believe that this is an indication that the economy is growing. More people are connected to the power grid, more factories need more power, etc...
The electricity capacity being generated at the Nkula Falls power plant on the Shire River and the Wovwe River power plant in Northern Malawi seems not to suffice. At least we have some good news that we shall soon have an electricity interconnection from the Cahora Bassa power plant in Mozambique to supplement our generating capacity. In short, I can say that we shall be importing electricity from Mozambique.
In the short term, this might help. But I feel that we should also keep on exploring on more other power sources within Malawi. What about building more hydropower stations on our many perennial rivers? What about intensifying the use of solar electricity in many areas including rural areas? What about generating electricity using windmills? I am not an economist but I believe that self-sufficiency is one of the keys to sustainable economic development.