By Patrick Botha
Residents of Likoma and Chizumulu Islands have said goodbye to prolonged power outages courtesy of the over K1.5 billion Hybrid Power Plant Project launch in Likoma on Monday.
“What we are witnessing here today is the first of its kind in this country. Now islanders can have power up to midnight instead of the previous rationing that would only go up to 10pm.
Come July next year the 1.3 Megawatt solar energy project will be completed. The islanders will have power for 24 hours,” said Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, Binton Kutsaila.
He said government considers the Likoma Energy project as a priority as energy is a driving force for development especially that the island is a tourist attraction.
Kutsaila’s sentiments were echoed by parliamentarian for the area, Christopher Ashems Songwe who said the energy project on both islands is a huge boost not only to peoples’ livelihood but also to the country’s economic growth.
“Business people can now stock goods without worry of losses due to power cuts, clean water supply can now go back to normal and tourists don’t have to be wary of power problems.
“Above all, this will attract investors to the island in trade and tourism sectors. I am grateful to government to have heed the cries of the islanders in their energy demand,” said Songwe.
Executive Director for Egenco, William Liabunya said he was happy to see the project being launched and that his company would make sure the solar project finishes within contract time.
“Now people of the island have nothing to worry about in terms of energy needs,” he said.
A wholesale and retail business operator at Jalo Market, Likoma, Davies Kawonga said the new and better energy supply will go a long way to improve his business.
“My sales had gone down during the six months prolonged power cuts. I couldn’t stock much of perishables as they would end up going bad.
Even cold drinks would not sell the way I expected because people want cold drinks as you might be aware the island is synonymous to hot weather,” said Kawonga.
Traditional Authority Mkumpha of Likoma, said he was happy that now government has given his people the long awaited generators saying he felt the agony of his people in enduring the power cuts for a period of six months and that this scared investors.
“I hope this goodwill from government will extend to other infrastructural projects like tarred roads and DC’s office.
As you can see the DC has no office up to now and work has stalled on the office building,” Mkumpha said.
Deputy Chairperson for Likoma District Council, Barnabas Sambamo asked the minister to lobby for better funding for Likoma so that the council can complete unfinished projects.
The four generators were supplied by Creck Hardware a local company run by a 38 year old Malawian Chris Kawiya.
Residents of Likoma in the past few months had taken to the streets to petition government to resolve the power generation and supply problem on the island.