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.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :