Blackouts to last 24 hours
The Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) has remodeled its electricity management programme, otherwise known as loadshedding, to 24 hours in a day by distributing it among three equal groups of customers connected to the power grid.
In the new model, Escom’s domestic customers have been divided into three groups with each having access to electricity for a minimum of eight hours on any given day.
Escom says the new model is easier to maintain and will ensure customers have more reliable access to power supply.
“There has been a lot of mi s interpret a t ions and misunderstanding as to how the 24 hour period of loadshedding is coming about.
“As an example, you will note from the graph that the first group of customers will have supply for the first eight hours, the next group in the next eight hours and the last group in the last eight hours in a specific day but at different hours,” Escom said in a statement.
The corporation has asked its customers to be guided by the new model of electricity management for planning purposes promising that all factors being equal, Escom will honour the schedule.
Escom has further assured Malawians that progress is being made in the short to medium terms to develop lasting mitigating factors to end the crisis.
But power frustrations among Malawians are evident even as more people are now using social media platforms to express their dissatisfaction with the current status of electricity supply in the country.
For the past few years, the country has been grappling with its worst electricity crisis in history and the Electricity Generation Company of Malawi (Egenco) has attributed the situation to declining water levels in Lake Malawi and subsequent low water flows in the Shire River where the company taps water for hydroelectric power generation.
The situation has forced Escom, the company responsible for supplying electricity to the nation, to effect a load-shedding programme based on the amount of power it is receiving from Egenco.
Escom was unbundled at the beginning of this year, creating two companies; one responsible for power generation and the other distribution.
The unbundling was proposed as a measure to increase efficiency in power generation and create an enabling environment for Independent Power Producers to invest in power generation.
But, as it stands, generation capacity is now down to three quarters of the full-installed capacity at 295 megawatts against 361 megawatts.
But the blackouts are expected to worsen as there is a huge difference between the demand for electricity and the power that is available for distribution.
The Journal of Energy in Southern Africa Volume 26 published in 2015 quotes Millennium Challenge Account Malawi Office Concept Paper for the Energy Sector as indicating that while the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has grown steadily by an average of seven percent per annum over the last five years, electricity generation and supply has remained stagnant.