Malawians and investors should brace for prolonged blackouts as Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) has announced the extension of load shedding from the current six hours to nine hours a day.
Escom chief executive officer Alexious Chiwaya attributed this to low water levels in the Lake Malawi, a situation that has affected the country’s main hydro power generation.
He told a news conference that power generation capacity has reduced to around 216 megawatts including input from diesel-powered generators installed in the country’s three cities.
Chiwaya said in the short-term, Escom is banking on 2o megawatts power import agreement from Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation (Zesco).
“However, the situation might improve shortly after we commission 20 megawatts from Zambia on 20 November,” he said.
Escom finalised works to import 20 Megawatts (MW) of power from Chipata in Zambia through Mchinji.
The five-year cross-border power supply agreement means that Escom will have more than 220 MW of power from the current 200 MW, however the figures fluctuate due to a number of factors.
Initially, Malawi has an electricity demand of around 350 MW but Escom has not been able to meet the demand due to low water levels in Lake Malawi and the Shire River among other reasons
Malawi is currently generating 260 megawatts instead of the needed 300 megawatts.
A senior official from the Ministry of Energy, Mining and Natural Resources said Mwera winds continue to affect water flow in Shire River.
This was however earlier trashed by a weather expert who laughed off assertions that the cyclone winds, popularly known as Mwera, are to blame for the current prolonged power cuts.
Yobu Kachiwanda, spokesperson at the Meteorological and Climate Change Department said Mwera winds cannot affect the production of electricity, saying usually they push water on one side temporarily.
“On long term, the mwera winds can cause evaporation but this does not happen in Malawi. It is always good and advisable that officials should consult us before making statements of this nature,” said Kachiwanda.
He said scientifically, it is very remote for the cyclone winds to reduce the water levels in Lake Malawi or Shire river as claimed by Escom publicist Innocent Chitosi in his recent interviews with the press.
Malawi has been experiencing extended hours of load shedding with the worst being in 2017 when Malawians were on some occasions subjected to up to 23 hours of load shedding.
Escom has since embarked on a number of reforms to enhance its efficiency.
Government and the corporation are investing in a number of projects within the energy sector between 2018 and 2022 worth about K157 billion to solve the current power shortage.
Aside from the Malawi-Zambia interconnection, Escom also plans to connect to Mozambique.
Recently, the corporation signed three Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) with two Independent Power Producers (IPPs) that could add an additional 86 MW to the national grid by December 2019.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :