Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (ESCOM) is optimistic that Malawi will in the next couple of years transform into one of the key energy generators, suppliers and exporters once the Mozambique-Malawi Power Interconnection project comes to fruition.
This is in sharp contrast to the current situation Malawians are going through which is characterized by frequent intermittent power supply coupled with unprecedented load shedding.
Escom’s Public Relations Manager, (PRM) Kitty Chingota told the media in Blantyre Wednesday that among other things, Escom, through the Governments of Malawi and Mozambique with support from the Southern African Power Pool and international donors including the World Bank are currently considering the development of a 400Kv transmission line from the existing Matambo substation in Mozambique to the future Phombeya substation, Balaka in Malawi.
She said by June 2017, studies which are currently underway to determine the best route option for the 84Km transmission line based on technical, environmental and social considerations, would come to an end, expecting the whole project to be fully operational by 2019 or early 2020.
Chingota observed that conducting Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) and preparation of Resettlement Policy Framework (RPF) for high voltage transmission lines is a legal requirement under Malawi’s environmental regulations.
“Indeed, communities are likely to be negatively or positively impacted as a result of this tentatively budgeted World Bank funded US$ 400 Million project but the total cost might be slightly increased due to the erratic and inconsistent currency fluctuations among other factors, hence my use of tentative terminology on the project cost.
“As a fully funded project, the World Bank is quite aware of the need to compensate all the would-be affected individuals following the long awaited dream project prior to their resettlement process to other identified areas. But let me assure everyone here that the communities will definitely benefit in one way or the other as the project will bring more job opportunities to the surrounding communities among other positive Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives in store,” She said.
The PRM pointed out that at one point, the Corporation is bound to shut down its transmission due to a series of technical factors, but she expressed full optimism that the substitution of the current 132Kv for 400Kv power transmission would completely transform Malawi to one of the key energy exporters to the surrounding SADC countries and home suppliers around the clock.
Canadian Based Environmental Consultant, Francis Barbe highlighted that the project is part of an ongoing regional energy integration process with a number of objectives that include establishment of a cooperative pooling mechanism for Southern Africa, promotion and enhancement of electricity trade with neighbouring countries besides the improvement of power security and reliability of supply on the Malawi’s network.
He said that technically, his team was critically looking into issues regarding exchange vists and meetings with key stakeholders, government authorities, councils, human rights organizations and those related with gender issues plus communities at large fondly termed as scooping exercise that involves Mwanza, Neno and Balaka districts where the 400 Kv transmission line is likely to pass through.