By Steven Godfrey Mkweteza
The country’s consumer rights body, Consumer Association of Malawi{CAMA} has described the proposed 60 percent new electricity base tarrif increase as an insult and infringement of the consumers rights in the country.

Executive director for the association John Kapito told the delegates to the first public hearings on application of new base tarriff increase by Escom which was held in Blantyre.

Kapito said the increase could only be effected if the consumers were accorded with the new products or services on the market.

According to Kapito, his association recently conducted a country-wide consultation on the new base tarriff increase whereby the results indicated that consumers were ready to pay the new base tarriff if only the power utility body{ESCOM} improved its services.

” Honestly, we are in total disagreement with this proposal now until ESCOM improve its services. Why can they raise the tarriffs when we have poor electric supply of the intermittent power outrages out there? we found this a mockery or an insult to the consumer rights,” said Kapito.

Kapito said his association was ready to mobilize people to go on the street to protest against the increase if the consumer concerns were not taken on board.

However, director of enegy in the ministry of natural resources and environment of Malawi{MNREM} Josephy Kawolekamo, defended the increase, saying it would go a long the way in boosting the private sector investment and bring about sanity in the energy sector.

” Increasing tarriff need to be well understood. It will boost private sector participation by bringing about competition. This will in turn bring down prices due to competition on the ground,” said Kalowekamo.

According to Kalowekamo, Malawi was one of the countries with the lowest electricity tarriff, a development that he said could not attract foreign investment.

In a bid to improve the services, the chief executive officer{CEO} for electricity cooperation of malawi{ESCOM} Alex Chiwaya disclosed that utility body has signed an agreement with the mozambiquan government to supply 50 megawatts, south African government to supply 150 mega watts and, Zambian government to supply 20 megawatts within the next four years.

Chiwaya said ESCOM would have to invest a total of 4157 Billion in tarriff in the next four years.

Chief executive officer{CEO} for Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority{MERA} Collings Magalasi said the energy regulator would come up with its detailed analysis of the applications after a review process end of this month.

According to Magalasi, as a legal requirement under the energy regulator Act of 2004 section 30 and the electricity Act of 2004 section 16{5} and 17 that the authority approves a new base tarriff adjustment formula, the authority is required to publish the proposed tarriff revision and call for public hearings to allow for stakeholders participation on issues that affect them.

The base tarriff is reviewed after every four years, and according to Mera, Escom was proposing a base tarriff increase of 60% for the 2018-2022 blacket.

Mera is a sole energy regulator in the country and was established in 2008.

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