ESCOM dash hopes of having normal electricity in Malawi

Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi  (ESCOM) management  have ruled out any possibility that power supply will be normalized  after the modernization works of machine number 5 at Nkula B power station.

Local media had recently quoted   ESCOM senior power station manager Steven Kaira assuring Malawians that the exercise was aimed to “greatly improve power generation capacity and reduce load shedding.”

Kaira was speaking this to a team of reporters who toured the power station in September.

Mituka: Power rationing to continue

But ESCOM’s public relations officer George Mituka said in a statement on Tuesday made available to Nyasa Times that the upgrading of Nkula B station has nothing to do with reducing power blackout.

“ESCOM’s position is that firstly, modernizing or upgrading of the machine is totally different from up rating it. Modernising/upgrading the machine here simply means the machine is being modified to make it more durable and therefore more reliable”, Mituka says.

Mituka says once the modernisation works are over in December, ESCOM is to be where it was before the modernisation works started.

“Thus to say, ESCOM will still be supplying about 100megawatts less than demand. This definitely means the country will still be experiencing power rationing,” he says.

Mituka has therefore indicated no effort currently underway to end the persistent power outages.

Malawi continues to experience power outages characterised with prolonged load shedding that is negatively impacting on the productivity of industries that heavily rely on ESCOM power.

Among them includes Candlex Malawi limited which was recently reported to have registered low profits largely due to frequent power black outs.

Escom is currently supplying 286 megawatts of electricity countrywide which is 100 megawatts less than what is required to cater for both domestic and industrial purposes throughout the country.

Minister of Energy and Mining Cassim Chilumpha disclosed recently that Gezhouba Group Corp from China plans to build a $500 million, 1,000 megawatts thermal plant in Malawi which will help abate the frequent power shortages.

The construction of the power plant is expected to cost around $500 million and is scheduled to start next year and will be completed between 2014 and 2015.

Various studies have identified a lack of reliable power supply as one of the key factors hindering investment in Malawi, with the most recent study, by the US’s Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), estimating that the country loses $4215.6-million a year owing to power outages.

The MCC is set to pump about $350-million into Malawi’s energy sector for the rehabilitation and modernisation of the country’s power plants.

Malawi is also preparing to link its electricity network with Mozambique’s in order to benefit from regional power trading under the auspices of the Southern Africa Power Pool.

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