The Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources and Climate Change has advised Electricity Generating Company (Egenco) to focus on one project if power generation challenges are to be effectively addressed.
Egenco, on the other hannd, welcomed the proposal but said it is not practical to put all eggs in one basket as each project has different components.
During a visit by committee members to Kapichira Hydro Power Station in Chikwawa yesterday, Egenco outlined the projects it has lined up to boost power generation. The outlined projects indicated a projected implementation period of four years.
The projects include the 309 megawatts (MW) Mpatamanga Hydro Power Station estimated to cost $950 million, but the World Bank has already committed $400 million. There is also the Kam’mwamba Coal-fired Electricty Plant project with initial 301MW capacity and Wovwe upgrade, among others.
Reacting to the project outline, committee chairperson Werani Chilenga proposed that instead of implementing several projects at a time, Egenco would do better focusing on one project.
He said: “We recommend that the company concentrates on one project at a time. It seems only 150 megawatts is needed and they have told us that the World Bank already pledged $400 million, why not concentrate on this to avoid losing everything?”
Chilenga said the committee highly recommends the Mpatamanga project which is less harmful to the environment than Kam’mwamba project.
But Egenco projects manager Steven Kayira said it was difficult for them to just concentrate on one project because all projects have their unique challenges.
He said they will proceed with other projects because those are the best projects according to their strategic plan.
“If we commit to one project and we meet a challenge, it means everything will go wrong. So, our approach is that we should still go ahead with a number of projects which we are still implementing. Suffice to say, those are the best projects in our strategic plans,” Kayira said.
He said Egenco is scouting for a strategic sponsor for the Kam’mwamba project and will soon meet potential partners in Tete, Mozambique.
On Mpatamanga, Kayira said despite the $400 million from the World Bank, Egenco still needs to identify other financiers to fill the gap and roll out implementation.
In recent years, Malawi has been experiencing erratic power supply, leading to rationing, due to reduced generating capacity. In January 2018, Egenco and Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) resorted to use of diesel-powered generators to feed the national grid amid challenges facing hydro power generation.
On Tuesday, Escom chief executive officer Allexion Chiwaya told the committee that the country’s power supply challenges will end in 2022.
He said they are banking on the interconnections with neighbouring countries such as Zambia (80MW), Mozambique (50MW) and South Africa (150MW). Malawi has installed generation capacity of about 362MW, but Egenco has been struggling and production has hovered below 250MW.