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Blackouts to persist

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Malawi should brace for continued blackouts in the months to come as Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) needs approximately K10 billion to restore distribution lines damaged by strong winds due to Tropical Storm Ana.

Two weeks ago, Malawi faced a storm which knocked down Escom’s power distribution equipment such as towers, transformers, poles and power cables.

According to the power utility’s acting Chief Executive Officer Clement Kanyama, the storm knocked down 11 towers valued at K80 million each.

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Kanyama added that all the damage combined will need approximately K10 billion which Escom is yet to source, hence uncertainty surrounding the timeline for full restoration of the equipment.

“The cost is a significant amount and we will continue to do a proper assessment and make submissions through our board of directors so that additional funding can be availed,” he said.

The damage prompted the Electricity Generation Company (Egenco) to completely shut down its Kapichira hydro power plant, taking 130 megawatts off the grid.

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Egenco said over the weekend that the power plant, which contributes 32 percent to the national grid, will take approximately six months to be restored.

This foretells the country will continue struggling with blackouts for a good part of this year, which may spill over to next year, subject to availability of funds.

Minister of Energy Ibrahim Matolah as indicated that he would ask Parliament for additional funds from the Treasury to solve the power woes.

“Malawians should understand the situation we are in and it is our hope that the power utility will continue restoring power through rehabilitation of equipment as Egenco works on restoring generation at Kapichira,” he said.

The damage, which has inconvenienced electricity distribution and generation, comes on top of an already struggling power sector which the Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry describes as a risk to investment.

Malawi has a total installed generation capacity of over 440 megawatts, about 390 of it being from hydropower plants and about 50 megawatts from thermal power plants.

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