The Electricity Generation Company (Egenco) has said the current prolonged blackouts will end in March next year when all diesel-powered generators, expected to generate 46 megawatts (MW), will have been commissioned.
The revelation contradicts the promise made by President Peter Mutharika and his government that blackouts will be contained by end December this year.
This means, people in the country will continue experiencing prolonged blackouts for the next four months.
At present, only three generators have arrived in the country and will be planted in Mzuzu to produce 6MW by end of this year.
Speaking in Mzuzu yesterday when they toured the Luwinga site, where the gensets will be planted, Egenco chief executive officer William Liabunya said the remaining, gensets will be commissioned by March 2018.
“So, we expect these diesel engines to be arriving in the country in January. And this 30 MW as it arrives, we expect that by end March we should have them commissioned. When we have the 30 MW commissioned, we are going to have 36 MW in total, together with the 6MW in Mzuzu,” said Liabunya.
According to Liabunya, the generator which was already installed at Kanengo is producing 6MW out of its 10 MW capacity due to operational problems.
He said the generator is being worked on and that by December 10 2017, it will start producing 10 MW.
“Come end of March, we will have 46 MW in total,” he said.
Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mines Aggrey Masi said yesterday government is expecting to have 20 MW, which will be in Mapanga, Blantyre where the civil works are already in progress. He said works are also in progress at Kanengo, Lilongwe, where they will generate 10 MW.
Masi also confirmed that the Mzuzu gensets will start working by January next year.
But this contradicts what President Mutharika has been communicating on when the prolonged blackouts will be resolved in the country.
For instance, during the opening of the 47th Session of Parliament, Mutharika said
government understands that people are facing serious challenges.
He said: “They need power now as I speak. Therefore, we are acting on both short-term and long-term solutions. As an emergency cover, we are bringing in generators to boost our capacity by end of December.”
Even during the opening of Export Processing Zone (EPZ) factory at Raiply in Mzimba this month, Mutharika also mentioned the December deadline.
“As a country, we are paying the cost of neglecting the energy sector for many years. My job is to reverse this situation. And we are almost there. The situation should improve by end of next month [December]. The challenges we face are temporary, but our solutions are permanent.”
Meanwhile, civil society organisations (CSOs) have expressed worry over conflicting information as to when the power outages will stop.
Livingstonia Synod Church and Society programme manager Happy Mhango said it is surprising that Egenco is giving dates that are conflicting with what President Mutharika is giving to the public.
“If you heard, the talk was that installation of gensets will take about three months while the communication we heard from the President is that this problem should end by December, and January people should have power.
“So the question is: Was the President told the truth or lies?” Mhango asked.
Presidential spokesperson Mgeme Kalilani yesterday said the President did not say the gensets will be installed by December, but that the blackout situation will improve by December. He, however, asked for more time to consult on the matter.