Malawi braces for Easter of extended blackouts—ESCOM

Malawians should brace for extended hours of load shedding during Easter holidays  as Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) has confirmed that power generation slumps again.

ESCOM says in a statement seen by Nyasa Times that  its main power supplier—Electricity Generation Company Limited (EGENCO)—has lost output by 20%; hence, the return of the extended load-shedding.

“From Wednesday, March 14, 2018, the amount of power received by ESCOM from EGENCO has reduced by 20%. In an effort to balance the operation of the power systeem, some customers may experience prolonged load-shedding periods outside of the published electricity management program,” reads the statement.

ESCOM says it is working to resolve the situation” in the shortest period possible”.

But is not immediately clear why EGENCO’s power output has retreated so sharply at a time the country has received heavy rains that must have boosted water levels in Lake Malawi—the main source of water for the Shire River from where EGENCO generates the bulk of the country’s power supply.

Government also bought generators to boost power generation and improve supply.

Thus, since January 31 2018—when President Peter Mutharika commissioned 55 Megawatts (MW) generators at ESCOM’s Chichiri Power Station in Blantyre—the situation improved markedly, with households and individuals celebrating wildly.

The 55 MW is part of 78 MW of emergency power supply procured from Aggreko—an Independent Power Producer (IPP)—as a short term solution against prolonged load-shedding.

ESCOM had said the commissioning of the gensets as an emergency power supply will result in reduced load shedding periods.

Those gains have now been reversed.

Malawi power generation woes moved from bad to worse last year with a loss of 20 megawatts (MW) within a week, a situation that prompted a drastic load shedding programme with some parts of the country staying without power over 24 hours.

In November 2016, President Mutharika told the nation that as part of short-term intervention measures into the power supply crisis, ESCOM would acquire diesel-operated generators on lease basis for an initial estimated period of 18 months.

The gensets arrived in the country in January on 129 trucks through Mwanza Border Post from Mozambique’s Beira Port.

ESCOM board chairperson Dr. Perks Ligoya—who was accompanied by Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining chief director MChimwemwe Banda, Escom chief executive officer Dr. Alex Chiwaya and other senior ESCOM officials—told journalists at Zobue in Mozambique that the arrival of the gensets would contribute to the improvement of power supply by reducing blackouts, thereby improving the country’s economy.

According to Escom officials, out of the total 78 MW, 35 MW would be installed at Chichiri in Blantyre, 23 MW at Chinyama in Kasungu and the remaining 20 MW at at Kanengo in Lilongwe.

When the gensets arrived and President Mutharika commissioned some of them in Blantyre, Malawians breathed a sigh of relief.

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Job
Guest

Its very pathetic to see this day robbery, u raise the tarrifs with the reasons that u want to improve service delivery and now you are failing to perform yet the GVT is just watching you. Eshiii this GVT to hell and we are tired of it, its long time they have abuse us.

2019
Guest

this is embarrassing to Mutharika and Escom. munamunyoza the “foul mouth” kuti ndi wabodza, lero wabodza ndani? ma Genset ndi awo, magetsi munakweza kungofuna kutibera basi, how can we trust you? mbava, atambwali inu a DPP, m’mangoziwa kulankhula koma zochita za dothi leni leni!!!!

#DzukaniAmalawi
Guest

Malawians said it before……we have the wrong people in high positions at both Escom and EGENCO. They look educated, they walk like they’re skilled, they talk like tney know what they’re doing doing; but are completely out of their depth. The appointing authority itself has questionable credentials with corruption as their driving motive. What happened to the Public Reform Program. I thought it would have taken out dead wood (Dead men walking).

TheWisest
Guest
ESCOM and EGENCO has one of the best engineers in the world as far as electricity generation,transmission and distribution is concerned.Every year they participate in internattional training programs to keep uptodate with latest technologies and These organizations are also members of Southern Africa Power Pool(SAPP) which looks at power issues the whole of SADC and is affiliated to international bodies.Thats why alot of engineers do leave when they which and join foreign companies because the skills are there and training is a system issue in the power sector thats y it is given the highest priority.The problem is with the… Read more »
#DzukaniAmalawi
Guest
There’s no question on how skilled our engineers are. Globally trained, exposed and probably highly regarded by their global counterparts. The challenge is that they have neither cognitive nor problem solving skills to deal with multifaceted challenges in front of them. If one is appointed to such senior or executive positions, one would expect that they would have the skills to navigate through and manage the politics politics but still deliver whilst at the same time retain their jobs. Skills alone won’t take anyone places, unless one is an artisan/technician. Most, if not all, power utilities in the continent are… Read more »
Jon
Guest

I second this. Government owes ESCOM too much money. Government use ESCOM for free electricity instead of paying for it. They have also prevented ESCOM through MERA from charging customers a fair price for the cost of electricity. So how do Malawians expect ESCOM to give them power when ESCOM itself is constantly broke? ESCOM staff work very hard on low salaries and poor equipment. Vuto ndi govt leadership AS ALWAYS.

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