Load shedding levels embarrass Escom
By Cathy Maulidi:
Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) Board Chairperson Morgan Tembo has said the organisation feels embarrassed when implementing load shedding programmes but is quick to say they have no choice since the country has power deficiencies.
Tembo said this at Kamuzu International Airport upon arrival from Zambia, where Escom, government officials and Chairperson for the Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources Werani Chilenga went to attend the inauguration of Kefue Gorge Hydro Power Station.
Speaking to journalists, Tembo said Zambia commissioned Kefue Gorge Hydro Power Station with a bigger part of internal resources and partially a loan, which has taught them that Malawi also needs to make significant investments in the energy sector.
“It is very, very embarrassing to us to be load shedding our people but, then, we are incapacitated. If you look at the station Zambia commissioned, it is 750 megawatts; literally, this power station is double the capacity that Malawi has,” Tembo said.
Malawi has about 441 megawatts as its national capacity and eyes 1,000 megawatts by next year while Zambia has 3,600 megawatts as its national capacity and eyes 4,000 by next year.
“As we develop initiatives that will help Malawi generate sufficient power, it is very important that we have the capability to draw power from other countries.
“We are working with the Mozambique government on the inter-connector and this is scheduled to be commissioned by the end of this year and will add 120 megawatts of access to electricity in Malawi, which will help the country and Escom move towards elimination of excessive load shedding,” Tembo said.
Meanwhile, Chilenga has admitted that Parliament made a mistake when it amended the Electricity Act that led to the unbundling of Escom.
“Our colleagues in Zambia are using Zambia Electricity Supply Company (Zesco), which is a government company that generates and transmits power, unlike us in Malawi, where Escom was unbundled.
“We made a big mistake which has led to electricity challenges we are experiencing now. The big mistake we made was to deny Escom generating powers; as such, this mistake has crippled our energy sector. Had we not made that mistake I think by now we could have been somewhere and Escom could have increased the generation capacity,” Chilenga said.
He said there is a need to amend the 2016 Electricity Amendment Act.
Last year, Tropical Cyclone Ana damaged the intake dam at Kapichira hydro-power station, taking load shedding to another new level in Malawi.