Minister of Natural Resources Energy and Mining Bright Msaka on Thursday announced that government will electrify 81 Trading Centres from each of districts of the country through Malawi Rural Electrification Programme(MAREP) when phase eight of the rural electrification program starts this year.
Msaka reveals that planning of phase eight started in May and is expected to be completed by end of August 2015. “The output of this planning exercise will be Bills of Quantities of materials required to implement the phase.
“The output of this planning exercise will be Bills of Quantities of materials required to implement the phase. Procurement process of the materials will start in September 2015 and is expected to be finished by February 2016. Alongside this process, procurement of contractors will also be done,” said Msaka.
According to Msaka, the overarching challenge to rural electrification is finances and capacity.
“With only installed capacity of 351.75 MW of electricity in the country, it is impossible to electrify each and every deserving Trading Centre, since MAREP draws its power from this installed capacity on national grid. More power is, therefore, required to reach out to all deserving Trading Centres,” he stated.
Msaka said demographic, geographic and economic disparities also pose a huge challenge to the successful implementation of the programme saying some Districts have huge population densities than others, some are growing faster economically than others meaning they have a lot more Trading Centres than others.
In order to address the challenges, Msaka said, Government is committed to increase electricity capacity through involvement of Independent Power Producers (IPPs).
“IPPs have been invited to generate electricity and inject it into the national grid through Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with ESCOM. This is expected to increase the power capacity nationally, which will be extended to MAREP, thereby increasing the number of Trading Centres to be electrified.”
Adding: “My Ministry intends to put in place measures to ensure that highly populated Districts with higher economic growth potential are prioritised to have an increased number of targeted Trading Centres. This would require to use scientific targeting methods to include demographic, geographic size, electricity demand and the level of electrification.”
He further adds, alongside the process, procurement of contractors will also be done to immediately to ensure that highly populated Districts with higher economic growth. It is expected that construction works will begin in March 2016 and finish in March 2017 in as far as MAREP phase eight project is concern.
Principal Secretary for Energy Kesta Kaphaiza concurred with Msaka’s sentiments saying that the government of Malawi is committed in improving the life of the population in rural areas by providing electricity throughout the country: Although there are hiccups in power generation capacity, financial resources and selection of the sites that would ensure equity.
Since MAREP Project was introduced in 1980s with ESCOM the areas electrified represent 9% out of 100% of the population area covered. The Mathematics of area population covered means that Malawi power generation is poor and less progressing. Therefore, the government of Malawi has allocated to MAREP Phase 8 an estimate of MK12.1 Billion to run the project.