Consumers should expect load shedding—disconnecting electricity in certain areas due to insufficient supply—in the forthcoming winter as electricity demand is expected to outstrip supply, Minister of Energy Ibrahim Matola has said.
Speaking in an interview on the sidelines of the launch of Escom financial model by Ernst and Young on Wednesday at Ryalls Hotel in Blantyre, Matola cautioned that if consumers will not manage the use of their electrical appliances properly, supply will be insufficient thereby pushing the power supplier to disconnect some areas from the grid during particular times.
According to data provided by the power supplier, Malawi’s electricity power demand was outstripped in December when Escom commissioned Kapichira Phase II which added about 64 megawatts to the national grid. Current Escom capacity stands at 351 megawatts, marginally above the country’s suppressed power demand which is at 350 megawatts.
Matola, however, said the situation is avoidable if consumers will manage the situation by ensuring that they use their appliances when they are needed most.
“We have three electricity demand peak hours which include in the morning between five and seven o’clock, around noon between eleven and two o’clock when lunch is being prepared, and in the evening between five and 10 o’clock,” said Matola.
Experts and analysts cautioned ahead of Kapichira Phase II commissioning that the country would only enjoy surplus power supply over a short period if no additional capacity is introduced to the grid.
Business analysts have also cautioned that the current intermittent power supply threatens the country’s economic growth.
But Matola said the government is working on a number of projects to increase electricity production capacity.
This week the government signed a grant agreement in which Japan will provide K420 million (about $1 million) to assist for detailed work design for an additional 21.8 megawatt hydropower station at Tedzani.
Government also said it will construct a coal fired power plant at Kammwamba in Neno which is expected to add 300 megawatts to the national grid. According to Matola the project still awaits financing from China to take off.
During the interview the Minister of Energy said that Malawi is also negotiating with a US company to invest in the production of biomass electricity which will be produced from planks.
Without specifically saying when he expects the project to be launched, Matola said since the project requires consultations with a number of ministries and stakeholders it might take longer.
Malawi also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the construction of another coal fired power plant by Intra Energy Corporation at Chipoka in Salima which will generate about 120 megawatts.
The country also signed a power interconnector with Mozambique which will see the country importing and exporting power from its neighbour.