Power outage is quite common in Malawi; I’ve stopped counting the number of time that the power went off here as it is quite common here. On Tuesday night, I have experience the longest period of time without electricity; power went off from 2PM until 10PM (8 hours!) As I discussed with others, apparently it came back around 10PM and stopped at 5AM… while everyone is sleeping! (But why? This is mystery and it’s still unresolved as of now.) If you happen to have a full day with electricity, expect the next day to be bad. Surprisingly, I have come up with tips to not be out of battery for my devices; whenever I have the chance, I leave my laptop connected and when power is out, this is where I will be relying on the battery; same for my cellphone and iPad. As for food; I have access to a kitchen in my lodge; but the kitchen is power dependant. Therefore, I always try to have left over from restaurant or I simply head to the restaurant for supper as the cookers is using gas and it’s not power dependant (I don’t think I’ve mentioned it but I’m staying in a hotel for the duration of my mandate). But then, what do you do with the grocery that you buy when the fridge isn’t working? Well… I freeze everything! So when the power is out, because it’s frozen, it won’t go bad as quickly as it would when store between 2-8°C and usually, the power comes back in time and the ingredients are safe. I also try to not buy too many ingredients at the same time as I never know when the next power outage will be…

I’m quite fortunate as you can see (maybe Canadians won’t believe as this would not be acceptable back home, but there is worse thing than this, trust me) and I always make sure that all my devices are charged so whenever I’m bored, I can always watch DVDs during power outage (who would have thought that these classic DVDs would be of use? Well, in Malawi!!) During power outage, this is where lamps are useful and it makes you feel like you’re camping in the woods but in a city. However, my reality is not comparable for most Malawians. Depending in which area you live in Lilongwe, availability of power can be worse than what I have just described. Most institutions like hotels and offices will have generator as a back-up to the electricity (which it’s the case in the lodge that I am); whereas other place, like COWLHA’s office, they do not have a generator which is quite troublesome when you work on a desktop or need to surf on Internet for references. I’m thankful for my battery’s laptop, but what do you do when Internet is down? You go back home…

Apparently, the power situation now is better than it was before. I was told that before, Malawians could go on without power for consecutive hours (e.g.: 24 hours!!) The situation was so unbearable, that the locals protested and requested the situation to be improved. The government listened and proposed a schedule with power, but it’s not being followed if you ask me, the power outage is happening randomly and is unpredictable. Another mystery that would stay unresolved until the end of my mandate…

I knew that power outage was a thing before my departure; but now that I’m currently here, it is worth to experience it myself to fully understand how life is in Lilongwe. Everyone knows the prejudice about how Africans work and how the pace here is not as fast as North America, but let me you ask this: Do you think that North America would be able to work as fast if power outage was an everyday issue? Not much would be achieved in a day if you ask me… I promised to myself to never take power for granted back in Quebec as we have to say, we have one hell of a good power system that can endure any type of weather and to never miss anything. At least, Malawian power outage taught me that!