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Escom banks on interconnectors

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State-run electricity supplier, Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) has said power interconnection among African countries remains key to ending Malawi’s blackouts.

Escom Chief Executive Officer Kamkwamba Kumwenda said this in an interview on Monday.

He said when investors want to invest in hydro in Malawi, they want to know the return on investment and the average they want is $0.12 per kilowatt per hour but customers are willing to pay $0.5 cents.

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He added that tapping from other countries that are attractive to investors would be more beneficial.

“A hydro plant takes five to six years to construct and when investors are looking at country risk, they will also look at things such as availability of foreign exchange in a country for the repayment of loans that they can obtain to put up such a structure so because of these factors it is hard to invest in Malawi and the solution is to tap from others,” he said.

Malawi has the Malawi- Mozambique power interconnection project worth $35 million on the cards.

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It is being funded by World Bank, European Union and the government of Malawi through Escom.

Once completed, it is expected to transfer to Malawi 50 Megawatts from Matambo Substation in Mozambique to Phombeya substation and with a capacity to transfer more from other countries connected to Mozambique.

Minister of Energy Ibrahim Matola, in April this year, said by December next year, Malawi will be able to tap electricity from the Southern Africa Power Pool after the completion of construction works of a 400 kilovolts power line between Malawi and Mozambique.

Energy expert from the Mzuzu University Maxon Chitawo said while such projects are indeed important, the country should work on increasing own generation capacity

“For example, if there can be an outage in Mozambique for some reasons, it means we will also not have power immediately because we do not have the capacity to reserve excess power therefore we need to work on this,” he said.

Electricity blackouts are now order of the day with Malawians staying up to 10 hours without electricity.

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