Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) has described the dependent on one river and one technology as major risks to power generation in the country, a development that is robbing the parastatal of millions of kwacha.
Escom chief executive officer John Kandulu said this on Sunday in Mangochi during the opening of the power supplier’s two-week disaster recovery and business continuity plans training workshop.
He said in times of disasters, the corporation has to spend billions of kwacha to correct the situation.
Kandulu said Escom lost about K2.2 billion (about $3million) due to flooding in January 2015, affecting its generation capability and another K2.2 billion to drought, which resulted in low water levels in Shire River, where 99 percent of the power is generated.
He said dependence on the river poses a risk in terms of power generation as the parastatal is left with only few options in times of crisis.
Said Kandulu: “We have diesel-powered generators on the two islands, Likoma and Chizumulu, and we have one or two standby generators, but the main source of power in Malawi, is hydro.
“When we talk about Shire River, we assume that all the water that flows into the Shire comes from Lake Malawi. It is not right because the Shire [River] has its own tributaries.”
He explained that the pattern of water flow into the Shire, particularly to the power stations, used to start in October but now it starts in is November.
Kandulu said in December and January, they experience rising water levels and reaches its maximum somewhere in April after which “we have issues to do with evaporation because of the stoppage of rains”.
“Apart from that, as a country, we only depend on one technology which is hydro power generation. This is also a big risk. With that kind of background, we are looking at ways of diversifying our technologies not to depend on one source of technology and power,” he said.
Kandulu said most of the areas where they erect their transmission equipment such as steel towers and cables are viewed as parasite areas to vandals, adding that market fires, which are mostly caused by illegal connections, meter bypassing, use of burners and system overload, among others, are also risks they have to deal with.
In his remarks, Escom’s senior risk manager Andy Chitete said the parastatal has since June 2014 launched and subscribed to enterprise risk management to mitigate risks they face in their operations.
Among the areas to be covered during the workshop include risks in distribution, information and communication technology, generation and transmission. n