President Peter Mutharika has bemoaned over-dependence of hydro-generated electricity, saying it has put Malawi at risk of climatic hazards and has said his administration is ready to accommodate serious investment in the energy sector to meet the existing electricity demand.
Mutharika made the remarks on Wednesday during the official handover and commissioning of upgraded Nkula A. Hydropower Plant in Neno District.
The President said for over 50 years, Malawi has not seriously invested in the energy sector to increase generation capacity and meet the people’s demand for electricity.
“We have been depending too heavily on hydropower. But climate is changing and water is Lake Malawi and Shire River is never sufficient to generate enough power for Malawians,” said Mutharika.
He added: “Now, we are diversifying into coal, gas, wind and solar power generation. We will continue to pursue medium to long-term measurers to end energy problems once and for all.”
Mutharika continued: “Besides, we plan to add another 80 megawatts to the national grid by March 2019 and soon I will bring electricity blackouts to an end for I know that energy is a key for economic growth. Electricity empowers Malawians to invest in businesses to generate income,”
Mutharika said his administration is committed to taking on board serious private investors to invest in the energy sector to address energy challenges.
He, therefore, commended the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) under the Malawi Compact for refurbishing Nkula A, which has added 36 megawatts to the country’s power grid.
“Today, with this compact, we have improved power generation capacity and increased transmission of electricity to people and their businesses,” he said.
On her part, United States of America Ambassador to Malawi, Virginia Palmer said she was optimistic the successful implementation of the first energy compact of upgrading Nkula A has unlocked the Malawi economic potential.
She expressed pleasure with how the compact has been implemented and that she expects Malawi to qualify for the second energy compact due in January 2019.
Sharing similar sentiments, Millennium Challenge Account Vice President, Jeanne Hauch said MCA is committed to develop Malawi in energy for its economic growth.
“When we came, we asked ourselves what was holding back economic growth of Malawi. We noted that Malawi has no access to reliable electricity. That’s why we thought of seriously investing in energy, thus refurbishment of Nkula A.
“We are confident that power reforms that Malawi embarked on will massively help in addressing electricity problems and build the future of Malawi,” she said.
Hauch who is based in Washington-DC challenged the country’s leadership to ensure that Shire River is used in sustainable manner,
“With more than 90 percent of Malawi’s power generated by hydro power, protecting the Shire River is crucial to protecting power generations.”
She said the Shire Basin Environmental Sustainability Trust will continue to fund catchment area protection programmes.
Nkula A was commissioned in 1996 and it developed technical faults and that it could not be repaired because of unavailability of spare parts. The problem also affected power generation of Nkula B.
In 2013, MCA commissioned a five year project under MCA Energy Compact to renovate Nkula A with $350.7 million (over K256 billion).
MCA-M board chairperson Symon Itaye said the upgrade would tackle the frequent breakdown of ageing machinery experienced at the unit.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :