Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining Bright Msaka says Malawians should expect reduced power blackouts due to improvements that will be made in electricity generation at Nkula hydro power station.
The minister, speaking on Thursday, said for a long time, Malawi has failed to meet electricity demand due to, among other things, siltation of dams at the power plant, which reduces water holding capacity by half.
Msaka’s assurance follows a $4.54 million (about K3.1 billion) provision by the Japanese Government of dredging equipment to Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) to improve power generation capacity at Nkula since the old dredging system is aged and does not have capacity to deal with the magnitude of siltation at the dam.
The equipment includes a dredger, hopper barges, pusher boat and escavator, weed harvester boat, trucks and tractors to be used in controlling aquatic weeds and sands which obstruct power generation along the Shire River, the main source of water for hydro power generation by Escom.
Msaka said the equipment will help to ease electricity generation problems that the country has been experiencing for some time now.
He said: “With the equipment, when the dredging is completed and this pond is able to hold the water that it was designed to hold, Nkula will be able to generate the full 122 megawatts (MW) installed here.
“We are not generating enough power to meet the demand. As of now, our generation capacity is a third of what we currently require. But we all know that power is a key catalyst for development.”
In his remarks, Japan Ambassador Shuichiro Nishioka said that the provision of the equipment is aimed at overcoming challenges to meet the country’s demand for electricity which remains high.
“This support is part of Japan’s commitment to addressing the growing environmental challenges in light of global climate change. With this dredging equipment, we are proud to introduce Japan’s advanced technology to Malawi,” he said.
The dredging system is part of $15.7 million (K11 billion) grant Japan provided to Malawi. n