Malawi has been excluded in the SADC high-priority energy transmission projects valued at more than US$4 billion for promotion and marketing to investors.
According to information released during the 34th Summit of SADC Heads of State and Government taking place in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, the nine projects are at various stages of development and include the flagship ZiZaBoNa Interconnector Project to be implemented by Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana and Namibia.
Other projects accorded high priority include the Central Transmission Corridor (CTC), the Mozambique Backbone Project, the Zambia-Tanzania-Kenya Interconnector as well as the proposed Namibia-Angola Interconnector that will connect Tanzania and Angola to the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP).
Power interruptions in Malawi continue to affect both private and public sectors.
Director of Infrastructure and Services at the SADC Secretariat, Remmy Makumbe said a joint utility steering committee comprising officials from the Zimbabwe Electricity Authority (ZESA) and ESKOM of South Africa has been formed to steer the CTC project and that draft terms of reference for technical and commercial teams have been developed.
The Southern African Power Pool (SAPP), which coordinates the planning, generation, transmission and marketing of electricity on behalf of utilities in the region, completed the tendering process for the ZiZaBoNa project in May 2013 and a number of investors are reported to have expressed interest in developing the electricity transmission interconnector.
The transmission interconnector project has the capacity to increase power trading among participating utilities, as well as providing an alternative route to decongest the existing central transmission corridor that passes through Zimbabwe.
However, in April 2013 Mozambique’s president Armando Emilio Guebuza travelled to Lilongwe to sign a power interconnection agreement with the Government of Malawi. This energy deal has been discussed for a few years but was dismissed by the former late president Bingu wa Mutharika on the grounds that it would be too costly for the tax payer.
The agreement was amended in January 2013. The two countries, both members of the SADC Southern African Power Pool, agreed to import and export electricity to each other. Previously, Malawi had agreed to only import electricity from but not export to Mozambique.
One study conducted in 2012 suggested that Malawi loses USD 4,215 million per year due to power outages. This is evidently a challenge for mining operations in the country. (Additional reporting by Joseph Ngwawi, sardc.net)