Barely 10 days to close the year, it has become apparent that Electricity Generation Company (Egenco) will not meet its own deadline to add 40 megawatts (MW) to the national grid through generators by December 31 2017.
Instead, it has emerged that Egenco will only connect a 2MW diesel-powered generator in Mzuzu out of the 6MW gensets delivered, according to officials.
In an interview on Tuesday, Egenco spokesperson Moses Gwaza said installation is in progress at Luwinga in Mzuzu where the company identified a site to install the 6MW diesel-powered gensets comprising three 2MW machines.
Outlining operational plans Egenco has on both the 6MW genset and 30MW genset to be airlifted from India, he said the other 4MW Mzuzu machines are expected to be operational from the first week of January 2018.
Said Gwaza: “Currently, installations are underway. The six megawatts generator has three machines, each with two megawatts. The first machine with two megawatts will run from this month end [December] and the other two will run from the first week of January.”
He echoed Egenco chief executive officer William Liabunya who told The Nation last week that a team of engineers has been dispatched to India to conduct a Factory Acceptance Test (FAT) on the machines to see if they are fit to operate in Malawi.
Added Gwaza: “By early January, the machine should have arrived. The plan is that by February, Lilongwe machines should be installed. By March, Blantyre machines should be installed so the whole process is expected to be finalised by March when all the machines are in.”
Following heavy downpours in most parts of the country, Gwaza said the current average generation capacity is said to hover between 180MW and 200MW. He said at times the generation capacity has been going up to 210MW.
In November, Egenco told The Nation that the 30MW genset was expected in the country by mid-December with installation carried out for before the end of the year.
Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining Aggrey Masi on December 8 told the National Assembly that prolonged power outages, which are seeing some consumers experiencing up to 25 hours of no electricity, would be dealt with by the end of this month.
The minister said President Peter Mutharika promised the nation during the opening of the 47th Session of Parliament that the power outages would be contained by the end of this month.
However, Egenco is on record as having indicated that installation of all diesel-powered generators would be finalised by March when 46MW are expected to have been commissioned; hence, improving power.
Commenting on the change of deadline, Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) executive director John Kapito described the addition of the 2MW as insignificant.
He said: “It [2MW] is not an addition because Malawi needs more. We expected Egenco to live by its promises.”
Kapito said Egenco needs to utilise the festive period when industries are shutdown to give consumers a relief.
Six sites have been identified where 50MW gensets are expected to be installed which include Mapanga and Chigumula in Blantyre, Mfundisi Cross in Mulanje, Monkey Bay in Mangochi and Kanengo in Lilongwe.
Egenco has attributed increased power outages in recent years to low water levels in Lake Malawi and its sole outlet, the Shire River, .
Currently, Egenco is producing about 200MW against a demand of 350MW. Malawi’s present installed generation capacity is at 351MW.