Malawi’s sole power supplier, Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom), has instituted a survey aimed at determining the power usage by its big customers so that it implements its load shedding programmes properly.
Escom has asked maximum customers to declare their demand capacity for this year and has warned that they will be penalised if actual demand exceeds demand declared.
The parastatal’s public relations manager Kitty Chingota said on Tuesday she would comment on the issue later.
However, some technical experts from the power supplier explained to Business Review that the exercise is done to ensure that Escom manages power supply.
“The exercise will enable Escom to know the total demand for an area during a specific time so that power is managed properly. The exercise may lead to an increase in total estimated demand, but we also have our own projections,” said the expert who did not want to be named.
The expert noted that the survey is aimed at ensuring that customers enjoy better power supply.
According to Escom, Malawi has an estimated power demand of 350 megawatts (MW). But some experts have said the actual demand may be above 1 000MW.
This week, Escom said the country’s power generation increased to 351MW due to the commissioning of Kapichira II which has added 64MW to the power grid.
President Joyce Banda is expected to officially commission the power station on Friday.
But the Malawi Institution of Engineers (MIE) last year said the country will enjoy a stint of adequate power supply due to the commissioning of the power plant, before slipping back to an energy deficit.
Former MIE president Matthews Mtumbuka then noted that although Malawi would achieve a major milestone on closing the power demand-supply deficit in 2014, the joy would be short-lived due to increased demand.
He noted that mining companies which consume a lot of electricity want to connect to Escom power grid.
Mtumbuka said that technically, Malawi is supposed to have some spinning reserve—an excess generation capacity to cover for eventualities such as faults on machines.
Government recently said a total of 21 trading centres are being electrified under the Malawi Rural Electrification Programme which will increase demand for power.
To manage demand, Escom embarked on an energy saver bulbs distribution which according to Chingota has cut the country’s demand by 40MW.
Apart from Kapichira II project, to increase the country’s total supply, Malawi signed with Mozambique the power interconnector which will enable importation and exportation of power.
Malawi also plans to construct coal-fired power plants at Kam’mwamba in Neno and at Chipoka in Salima.