Scarce megawatts amidst abundance


Most of the technologies today are precipitated on availability of electricity. Amongst other sources of electrical power, Hydropower electricity is green and clean; manna from God. The caveat though is that Hydro generation can be as unreliable as the rainy patterns it is hitched on.

According to Worlds Energy Council Resource 2016 Report (a comprehensive 1,018 page document) Africa suffers from price disproportion malady; Africa’s average effective selling price is K 102.06/ KWh against World’s average K 131.22/KWh cost of production. This means that for most of African countries, electricity is sold lower than it takes to produce it. The difference is paid up through subsidies.

When the rains are erratic so is hydroelectric power. But if you check the patterns, you will wake up to the reality that as a region (Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania and Mozambique) is not hit by unfavorable rain conditions at similar times.


Malawi’s hydro generation capacity in 2015 was 364 megawatts. Malawi produced 2,136 gigawatts in that year. Our neighbor Tanzania was just a notch higher; 563 megawatts production capacity and 2,560 gigawatts production.

The other neighbors, Mozambique and Zambia were endowed with both capacity and production; Mozambique produced 12,000 gigawatts with 2,187 megawatts of capacity while Chipolopolo country hydro machines churned out a whopping 13, 961 gigawatts from an impressive 2,272 gigawatts capacity.

The translation of those statistics is that our situation is one of scarcity amidst plenty. As a region, there were 30,657 gigawatts (30.65 Terawatts) of power generated. It is for this reason that we do not hear of as much of blackouts in Tanganyika as we have here although our generation capacities are equally lower. After all, is Tanzania not much bigger than Malawi?


Given the reality on the ground, interconnection for Malawi is not even an option; it is reality beckoning. The late Bingu wa Mutharika is on record to have denounced interconnection with zeal and vigour; one wonders which statistics the revolutionary-turnaround political artist was reading. Probably it was a disguised ruse for votes; Bingu used the same subterfuge on diesel; offering it as low as K260/litre when the fuel pumps had nothing to thrust.

According to the same report, electricity production from fossil fuels, on world average, costs K218.70/megawatt. That is about twice the cost of production of hydroelectric power. Those figures would obviously be lower in Iraq and Iran where there are more oil deposits than rainfall. The cost of genset megawatt is chiefly dependent on fuel pump prices.

“Global installed capacity of solar-power electricity has seen an exponential growth reaching around 227 gigawatts at the end of 2015. It produced one percent of all the electricity globally” hints the report.

Malawi had a production capacity of 1 megawatt in 2014 and produced six gigawatts solar power. Mozambique produced 16 gigawatts with a production capacity of 14 megawatts. Tanzania has most production capacity of 14 gigawatts but only produced a parity of 16 gigawatts. Zambia was lazy, churned out three gigawatts with two gigawatts capacity. He who has an eye, let him see the stats. I rest my case.

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