K21 billion power project faces hitch
By Wezzie Gausi
A $20.245, 000 (about K21 billion) project that has been touted as an energy booster has been failing to take off because the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) and Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet (Geapp) have been differing on the currency to use.
If implemented, the project could see Malawi adding 20 megawatts (mw) to the national grid.
However, Ministry of Energy officials told the Parliamentary Cluster on Agriculture and Natural Resources Thursday that delays in rolling out the 20mw Battery Energy Storage System Project are due to disagreements over whether to use the Kwacha or United States dollar.
This has come to the fore after Malawi received a grant of $20.245,000 from Geapp to assist in boosting power supply in the national grid.
Its epicentre is expected to be Kanengo in Lilongwe.
Secretary for Energy Alfonso Chikuni told cluster members that the project has been delayed due to the currency that Malawi is to use to contribute to the project.
He said Geapp insists that the money should be in dollars while the Reserve Bank of Malawi wants the money to be channeled in local currency.
“These batteries will serve as a backup power [source] for the industrial area of Kanengo but the Treasury is yet to finalise drafting the financing agreement of the venture.
“With these delays, we believe that the project will be up and running by November 2024. We hope, in eight months or so, we will have finalised paperwork and that the real work on the ground will have started,” Chikuni said.
Cluster co-chairperson Werani Chilenga described the delays as unnecessary.
“To say the truth, the ministry is failing us in how it is delivering its duties. We have Marep [Malawi Rural Electrification Programme], which is not being implemented as planned, and now another project is failing to take off again.
“We, as a country, must agree that we are facing an electricity supply crisis and we need to utilise every opportunity to add more power to the national grid,” Chilenga said.
Meanwhile, Chikuni has said the Government of Malawi is set to contribute $2.4 million to the project.
Malawi also received a $150 million loan package from World Bank meant for Malawi Electricity Access Project (Meap).
In 2019, Parliament approved a World Bank loan to implement Meap as part of implementation modalities for the National Energy Policy of 2018.