Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining Bintony Kutsaira yesterday said Malawi is waiting to join the Southern Africa Power Pool (Sapp) electricity grid and reap from the platform’s benefits.
Kutsaira also praised Sapp for providing reliable, sustainable and affordable power for citizens in the Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) region, while also assisting individual member countries in meeting some of their power shortfalls.
The minister said this when he addressed delegates to the 54th Sapp Management Committee Meeting in Lilongwe which started on Monday and ended yesterday.
Currently, the power pool has nine interconnected countries with Malawi, Tanzania and Angola yet to be connected to the grid.
Kutsaira said it was pleasing to note that trading on the Sapp market continues to be competitive and is growing unabated, a situation he said is in tandem with the platform’s mandate.
He said: “It is quite remarkable to note that the Sapp competitive market is being used by various utilities to meet their short and medium term power requirements. My country is eagerly waiting to join this bandwagon.”
According to the minister, the meeting came at an opportune time for the Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) and Capital Hill when significant steps have been made to get Malawi connected to the Sapp grid.
He informed delegates that financing for the Mozambique-Malawi interconnection project was finally secured, stressing that government in collaboration with other stakeholders is now procuring contractors to start construction works.
Kutsaira said government expects to start reaping the fruits from the project by 2022.
The interconnector project is expected to benefit Malawian households, businesses, and farmers who will reap from increased access to reliable electricity services, vital to improve the country’s productivity and competitiveness in the domestic and regional markets.
The project’s main undertakings include the construction of a 218km, 400 kilovolts (kV) high voltage alternating current transmission line, grid connections, and associated infrastructure including substation works.
“We are looking forward to become beneficiaries of regional integration in the electricity sub-sector in Sadc. This, we hope, will lead to our country having access to more electricity from our neighbours,” said the minister.
With regards to the 400 kilovolts Zambia-Malawi interconnection, Kutsaira said Malawi has undertaken feasibility studies for the line up to the border with Zambia, adding that Malawi prays that through the Sapp project implementation unit, the competition of the feasibility studies will be accelerated.
He encouraged all member States that to keep pace with emerging development unfolding individual countries, it was incumbent upon them to invest hugely in electricity supply infrastructure to avoid power deficits in future.
During the meeting, Escom chief executive officer Allexion Chiwaya said the power utility firm looks forward to become an operating member of the Sapp in the short term and begin to benefit from the regional market.
During the meeting, it was stated by many participants that Sadc has a very huge energy resource potential in form of coal, hydro, gas and renewable energy yet there are not fully exploited in an economically sound and sustainable manner for the benefit of the whole region.
The meeting also tackled the devastating effects of climate change within Sadc which has not spared countries like Zimbabwe and Zambia which are experiencing severe power shortage due to the drought that has affected the Kariba Complex as the Kariba lake water is very low; hence, insufficient for enough power generation.
Sapp is the first and the most advanced power pool on the continent providing an alternative to domestic electricity generation to improve energy security.