Increased prospects in the mining sector has brought a skyrocketing demand for electricity in Malawi leading to the almost doubling of power projections up to 2020, a United Nations (UN) report has said.
The Malawi government 2012 Annual Economic Report forecasted that power demand was estimated at 408 (mega watts) MW in 2010, 603MW in 2015, 829MW in 2020.
But a report from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)-funded Sustainable Energy Management (SEM) has said electricity demand is to increase to 740MW by 2015 and over 1,400MW by 2020.
This is against the current meagre installed capacity of 287 MW by the Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom).
However, Minister of Energy Ibrahim Matola said these are some of the reasons government is fastracking projects to increase local electricity generation and Malawi’s interconnection with the Southern Africa Power Pool (Sapp).
“We know that this has been negatively affecting the country by limiting our production capacity since power is an essential in economic development and growth, that is why we are moving to set up new hydro stations like Kholombidzo, bringing in investors like the Chinese for the 1,000MW coal power plant and of course the
interconnection with Mozambique to enable Malawi even sell excess electricity and earn foreign exchange,” said Matola.
The great need for electricity in Malawi has also been highly emphasised in the recently released Business Climate Survey conducted by the Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI).
The survey report says the business community continues to suffer from the inadequate and erratic supply of electricity since available power has always been limited leading to never ending power outages.
The survey said electricity is also becoming expensive and its supply interruptions have led to the private sector to become uncompetitive due to high costs as alternative sources of power which are immediately diesel generators are further complicated by unpredictable fuel supply challenges.
“This has led to the continued decline of the manufacturing sector contribution of manufacturing sector to the gross domestic product (GDP) meaning that remaining manufacturing is concentrated in low technology and low value products, to minimise potential loss due to outages,” MCCCI said.