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Ambitious energy generation plan

Government set to add 1,000MW in 4 years

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Newton Kambala

President Lazarus Chakwera Wednesday said the government is working towards adding not less than 1,000 megawatts (mw) of electricity to the national grid within the next four years.

Energy experts have since welcomed the aspiration, but with a warning that the dream should not be frustrated by bureaucracy in government entities.

Chakwera told Parliament that the projection is in line with outlined public and private projects.

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“This is not a wish but, rather, a report based on the projects, both public and private, we have in the pipeline to increase electricity generation and supply in the country in the short to medium term,” Chakwera said.

He outlined 15 projects, nine of which, he said, are due for completion this year while the rest are due for completion between 2023 and 2025.

The earmarked projects include the 60mw Salima Solar, 20mw Golomoti Solar, 21mw Nkhotakota Solar, 20mw Monkey Bay Solar, 50mw Mzimba Wind, 50mw Bwengu Solar, 20mw Kanengo Solar, 10mw Gebis Waste Energy, 70mw Salima Gas, 100mw Natural Gas, 100mw Rukulu Coal, 300mw Kammwamba Coa and 19mw Tedzani Hydro-electric power plant.

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The government is also banking on the 50mw Malawi- Mozambique Interconnector and 50mw Malawi-Zambia Interconnector projects.

Energy expert Grain Malunga said in an interview Wednesday that solar and turbine projects might require less time to implement unlike hydro projects.

“What delays projects in this country is the lengthy approval and negotiations on bureaucratic procedures such as power purchase agreements. If the period of these is reduced, then there is a chance that this could be possible,” Malunga said

In an earlier interview, Minister of Energy Newton Kambala reaffirmed the government’s commitment to working with independent power producers (IPPs) to achieve its ambition of increasing energy generation capacity.

He said, following discussions with some of the IPPs, some of the projects were in progress.

“There are some who would deliver within this year,” Kambala said.

A recent study by the Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) indicated that, in 2020, electricity was the second major problem affecting productivity, with the Covid pandemic claiming first spot.

However, in a recent interview, MCCCI President James Chimwaza said the government had been responding to these challenges, with some of the solutions being long term.

“We are seeing an increase in megawatts that are being produced each time and, maybe, by 2024-25, we should be getting greater megawatts than we are getting now,” Chimwaza said.

In Malawi, where less than 12 percent of the population has access to electricity, the lack of reliable power supply is a major constraint to business and economic growth.

Malawian firms consistently cite weakness in the electricity sector as one of the major obstacles to doing business.

When power cuts out, big firms must either shut down or increase the cost of production by using fuel generators.

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