Friday, February 23, 2024
HomeOpinionSundays with Cedrick: Lack of Creativity – Malawi’s Worst Enemy

Sundays with Cedrick: Lack of Creativity – Malawi’s Worst Enemy

Mutharika must resign
ESCOM: unprecedented power blackouts for over 20 Years

By Cedrick G. Ngalande, PhD

In last week’s introductory article, I asked the question, How do you develop a small poor country?” I also discussed the caliber of leaders the nation should be looking for.  I received  a lot of comments  from people who read the  article with interest but thought the article, itself,  did not give an answer to the important question above. Well,  I did not mean to answer the question in one article. As I pointed out last week, I will be discussing this question every Sunday through May 2025, and beyond. So, stay tuned and engaged.

Today,  I want to talk about creativity and its importance in developing a poor country like Malawi. The greatest problem facing these African countries is what I call, “following in the footsteps” syndrome. In a scenario where one person is leading the other in, say a forest, the person in front is forced to exercise his creativity to decide which  path to chart. The person behind only has to do one thing: wait for the leader to remove his foot so, he can place his own in that footprint. He does not need to be creative.

The person in front may sometimes choose a path that only suits himself and nobody else. For instance, he may be of thin stature, and therefore choose to pass through a narrow path which  may not be convenient for his  fat follower(s). Creativity brings freedom and power.

In modern civilization, the European nations are ahead of the African nations, in terms of development. Because we tend to follow in their footsteps, the creativity of our people has been destroyed. To develop, we need to rediscover our unique creative power.

Several years ago, I was selected from Khanaja Full Primary School in the then Mulanje District (now Phalombe) to St Patrick’s Secondary School in Blantyre or Chiradzulo, depending on whom you talk to. (In those days, the question of whether St Patrick’s was in Blantyre or Chiradzulo was always a hotly contested topic. Of course, those of us from the villages wanted this great institution to be in Blantyre so we could brag during holidays back home. I do not know if this controversy has been resolved as of now).

It was at St Patrick’s that I was introduced to electricity for the first time ever in my life. It was a great feeling to live in dormitories and classes lit by electricity from the famous Nkula Hydroelectric power station. This excitement was tempered one day that rainy season when  the electricity suddenly went off. Classmates, who grew up in Blantyre city,  started talking about “blackouts” – a term I had not yet learned. The next day  ESCOM,  through the Daily  Times, announced that electricity would  continue to be interrupted because of mud in the Shire River that rainy season.

That was more than two decades ago!  Today in 2021, those blackouts continue every rainy season,  and ESCOM continues to blame  ‘mud in the Shire River’.

This is a classic example of lack of creative.  We cannot permanently solve our ‘mud in the Shire River’ problem presumably because we are waiting for a solution from others. For more than twenty years, we have failed to summon the resources and creativity of the country to completely eradicate this problem.  I bet if the British – from whom we copied the method of hydroelectricity generation – were still using this method and experienced the same ‘mud in the river’ problem, we would not have blackouts in Malawi today. Why? Because they would have solved the problem and we would have copied from them, as usual.

Tony Blair
What does Tony Blair want from Malawi?

Electricity is very important to the development of any country. The economy of the 21st century cannot run without electricity. This calls for immense creativity to devise ways of providing adequate power  to the whole country. We do not have to stick to hydroelectricity generation. There are many alternatives to centralized hydroelectricity generation. The  resources being wasted on  fixing  ‘mud in the Shire River’ could be  used to establish other forms of energy generation.  For example, Malawi sits in the region of the world receiving the most direct sunshine in a year. Why are we not rushing to implement a comprehensive solar energy plan for the nation? We can even set up solar energy research institutes  within the SADC to find ways in which we can efficiently use this free resource in the context of a poor African region.

So here is a thought, next time somebody wants to be CEO of ESCOM, ask him or her to give a plan/proposal of how s/he intends to remove this “mud in the Shire River” excuse from the vocabulary of ESCOM. Only then will we start our journey to true development!

Next week, I will talk about corruption. Have a great week!

Ad Astra!

Cedrick Ngalande
Cedrick Ngalande
I am a strategic engineering executive with the technical breadth necessary to oversee all functions within the engineering team, with proven success in mentoring highly talented and successful engineers who aspire to perform with accountability for achieving their personal best while also meeting or exceeding company goals. I have always represented the company to the highest standards regarding engineering strategy, performance and outlook. My strong background in aerospace engineering, computer programming, stochastic processes and engineering probability is a result of my expertise in space environments with specialties in direct simulations Monte Carlo (DSMC) and computational fluid dynamics (CFD), predictive science, investment and financial engineering. As an effective leader, I also bring a business focus in areas including corporate strategy, project analytics, materials planning, production and procurement. This business acumen is combined with my demonstrated technical tactical leadership. My key strengths include: - Engineering Management - Leadership / Mentor / Team Development - Quantitative / Qualitative Methods - Financial Engineering - DSMC / CFD - Numeric Modeling - Investment Analysis - SAP /ERP


  1. This is eye opening. Indeed Malawians our solutions are modeled from The West and that is why we are always lagging behind. Cannot wait to vote for Cedrick

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