Electricity Generation Company (Egenco) has outlined power production challenges, saying its generation capacity will continue to be negatively affected until water levels in Lake Malawi and its outlet Shire River improve.
Egenco chief executive officer William Liabunya told members of Parliament’s Committee on Government Assurances and Public Service Reforms in Lilongwe yesterday that the situation is critical that the country is running on 100 megawatts (MW) less of required power.
He said: “It is a fact that our situation in the country is bad and the water levels in the lake have gone down. This has affected and impacted us [Egenco] negatively.
“Currently, we are only managing to generate 210 megawatts which is almost 100 megawatts below our installed and available generation capacity [estimated at 350MW].”
During the meeting, the committee members expressed worry over the persistent power blackouts the country is experiencing and asked Egenco, which is a power producer that sells its electricity to the Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom), on what was being done to improve the situation.
In response, Liabunya said Egenco has instituted a number of interventions to address the current situation, including procurement of diesel-powered engines to help power generation and increase power output by 50MW by November.
“Currently, we have diesel engines that we are installing and we have some that we have procured on hire that can help us in this situation that we are in so that we are procuring 50 megawatts as emergency power that we hope we can have it up and running by the end of November to avert the problems we are experiencing now before the rains come,” he said.
Apart from the 50MW, Liabunya said Egenco is also putting up 36MW diesel engines in the cities of Blantyre, Lilongwe and Mzuzu—six MW of which is expected to be running by November and the remaining expected to run by December.
He said: “We believe that with these innovations and interventions, we can be mitigating the current problem that we are facing but at the same time by running these diesel engines we can conserve water in the lake even during the rainy seasons.”
Committee vice-chairperson Yowami Mpaweni said they will follow up with Egenco on the promises they have made and also hold discussions with the relevant ministry on the way forward to help the company if the water levels continue to dwindle.
Malawi has in recent years been experiencing inadequate power supply and extended load-shedding due to low water levels in Lake Malawi.
During earlier briefings, Egenco said in the medium-term, it is exploring the possibility of building a 20MW solar power station initially scheduled to be operational within 12 to 24 months from March this year. In the long-term, Egenco said it was exploring construction of a 320MW project at Mpatamanga Gorge along the Shire River whose feasibility study funded by the World Bank is underway.
Businesses have accused government doing talking more and doing little to resolve the energy supply problem that has now reached crisis levels and threatens to erode economic gains made thus far, including lower inflation and lending rates. n