A Sweden government development financier, Swedfund, has given a $745, 000 grant to Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) to finance the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment for the rehabilitation and upgrading of the Eastern Backbone.
The Eastern Backbone consists of transmission lines from Nkhoma in Lilongwe to Chintheche in Nkhata Bay and from Nkhotakota District to Kanyika in Mzimba District.
The line was constructed in 1981 on wooden poles as a temporary structure but ended being a permanent structure but its deplorable state now contributes five percent of total Escom energy losses and it is switched off every two weeks for maintenance depriving people electricity.
Speaking during the official signing ceremony of the grant, Escom Chief Executive Officer Kamkwamba Kumwenda said the grant has come at the right time when the entity is geared to improve electricity supply.
Kumwenda added that once renovated and upgraded, the line will facilitate the Malawi— Tanzania interconnection which will see Malawi tapping power from the neighboring country.
“I assure you that this grant from the Swedfund will be there to support our aspirations and dreams for that future with more development, more services, and more opportunities for every family in our communities,” Kumwenda said.
Once the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment is done, the energy supplier will start looking for funds amounting up to $100 million to start the rehabilitation and upgrading works of the line.
All things being equal, the renovation and upgrading of the Eastern Backbone is expected to be complete by 2025.
Swedfund Manager Johan Heiskala said the firm has committed the funds after noting energy woes among countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.
“In that context we got in touch with Escom and started discussing on the Eastern Backbone and we are expecting that it will be easier for Escom to convince financiers for the project after the assessment,” he said.
Malawi aspires to have 1000 megawatts of power by 2025 in which some will come from interconnections that require modern transmission lines.
Justin Mkweu is a fast growing reporter who currently works with Times Group on the business desk.
He is however flexible as he also writes about current affairs and national issues.