The World Bank US $84.7 million (K34.7 billion) project will not even make the persistent electricity blackouts go away completely, the Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (ESCOM).
Escom said the World Bank initiative ‘Energy Sector Support Project’ which rolled out in December 2011 and will be winding up in October 2016and “will only mitigate and not eradicate” incidences of black-outs.
“We will not reach zero blackout for the simple reason that the cause of the blackouts or [what] is generally called blackouts, but also include load-shedding-which is scheduled-are numerous,” said Escom’s Director of Planning and Development Lameck Nchembe quoted in the press on Saturday.
He told Malawi News that black-outs occur as a result of a fault on the system due to some failure of equipment due to its condition for can old and long overdue for either replacement or rehabilitation.
With the project, which will include rehabilitation of old and faulty equipment, Malawi should experience fewer incidents of blackouts.
“Obviously you can appreciate that if we have replaced all the old equipment, we have strengthened the system, then faults that rise due to failure of such equipment should drastically reduce and therefore the frequency of occurrence of such blackouts should noticeably also be reduced,” he said.
Malawi’s current generation capacity is 286 megawatts, 20 percent of which is lost in the transmission and distribution processes. But peak demand is currently estimated at about 330 megawatts, according to the World Bank.
“At peak times, we have to ration the power so that we share the amount of power that is available, especially at peak times. This process involves switching off certain areas on the demand side so that the little power that we have can suffice,” said Nchembe as quoted by the weekly.
Escom’s Chief System Planning Engineer Andrew Senzani said US $3 million will be used to buy essential parts for the power stations.
World Bank says demand for electricity in the country is expected to grow at about five per cent annually over the next ten years.