There is no sign of an end, yet, to the persistent blackouts Malawians have been subjected to in the past months as rehabilitation of the 129.6 megawatts (mw) Kapichira Hydro Power Station is yet to commence.
In February 2022, the power station suffered an extensive damage, especially at its intake dam, due to Tropical Storm Ana. It would cost over K18 billion to fix.
Exactly three months down the line, State-run Energy Electricity Generation Company (Egenco) has only just been given a nod by the Public Procurements and Disposal of Assets Authority to have a restricted tender as part of the process of finding a contractor.
But commentators feel the rehabilitation work is not being treated with urgency.
Addressing journalists on Friday when Minister of Energy Ibrahim Matola toured Tedzani and Nkula hydro power stations, Egenco Chief Executive Officer William Liyabunya could, however, not clearly tell when the power plant will be back in operation.
He hinted that funding for the rehabilitation work— which would either come from insurers or developing partners—was yet to be accessed.
“There is an issue of financing that we believe, within the next month, should be sorted out. We are optimistic that, by the end of May, we should have a contractor and move on the ground in June or somewhere thereabouts,” Liabunya said.
In an interview, Matola could also not clearly spell out the deadline for the project.
“We had an K18 billion budget for that project but it was reduced to K15 billion. Let us talk when we get there,” he said.
Egenco feeds about 442mw into the national grid from both hydro and diesel generators but the collapse of the Kapichira Power Station means the firm could be able to generate only 312mw.
Egenco’s generation capacity is at 200mw while IPPs are feeding about 75mw to the power grid, which means the country’s generation is below 300mw. It would take putting up an extra 795mw to hit the 1000mw mark.
As Aggreko contract came to an end last month, about 78mw was also taken off the grid, bringing the total contribution of independent power producers down to a meager 75mw.
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.