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Covid-19 disturbs Malawi’s power plan

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As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to threaten economies world over, with four confirmed cases registered in Malawi so far, the country is set to endure the dependence of diesel power generators which have proved to be injurious to the economy for at least the next three months, the government has said.

Minister of Energy Atupele Muluzi said in a recent interview that the government has had to push forward timelines for Independent Power Producers (IPPs), some of whom were supposed to roll out their operations this month.

According to Muluzi, the expedition of the Zambia- Malawi power line may also take a bit of time, thereby forcing the country to continue relying on the costly diesel generated power supply in the wake of the unreliable hydropower.

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“We were expecting an addition of approximately between 60 and a 100 Megawatts (MW) from IPPs coming online around April this year, however because of the coronavirus and the fact that we have a global slowdown in terms of travel and activity it means we have to push those timelines forward. We expected that by at least this time we would have reduced the dependence on diesel gensets but such won’t be the case,” Muluzi disclosed.

He said engagements with IPPs like JCM are at an advanced stage and have proved will benefit the country.

On the Zambia-Malawi power interconnector, Muluzi who visited the National Power Control Center for Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) on Friday in Blantyre said the government is looking at a period of about 12 months to complete all the processes of expediting the move.

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“We can begin to find ways of how we can expedite the interconnection especially in Zambia where we think it is possible to do that within a period of 12 months, it’s still lengthy but I think these are the shorter measures,” Muluzi added.

Muluzi also reaffirmed government’s support to Escom which just renewed a contract with Aggreko Power Solutions Limited to operate the 84 diesel-powered generators that were leased in 2017.

And as of September last year, reports indicated that The Electricity Generation Company was spending over K3 billion per month to buy fuel for its 25 diesel-powered generators that produce 20 MW at Mapanga in Blantyre, 10 MW at Kanengo I, 10 MW at Kanengo II, Lilongwe A 4.9 MW and 6 MW at Luwinga in Mzuzu.

This comes at a time when Malawi continues to experience at least seven hours of load shedding in almost all parts.

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