Persistent electricity blackouts have increased the demand for charcoal in Mzuzu which is threatening the survival of nearby forests like Chikangawa Forest. Random interviews from charcoal sellers and restaurant owners confirmed a surge in the use of Charcoal. Rachael Msowoya, who owns Soul Kitchen Restaurant in Mzuzu said frequent and lengthy blackouts have motivated her to use more charcoal for cooking to sustain her business and family.
According to many restaurant owners, gas stoves are a more expensive alternative compared to charcoal which is selling at K3000 per bag. Charcoal sellers said they have almost doubled their sales since ESCOM’s effective load shedding/power rationing programme went into overdrive.