Malawi now faces a 358 megawatts (MW) power generation deficit following the commissioning of the 19.1MW Tedzani IV Hydro Power Station which an energy expert has described as a step
towards easing power woes.
The country’s current electricity demand is projected at about 800MW; hence, with Egenco’s total installed generation capacity standing at 441.95MW, there is a gap of about 358MW.
In an interview after President Lazarus Chakwera commissioned the $56 million (about K44.3 billion) Tedzani IV Project financed with $52 million grant from Japanese International Cooperation Agency (Jica) and $4.8 million from Electricity Generation Company (Egenco), energy expert Grain Malunga said that to keep pace with industrialisation and economic development, the country should maintain momentum in the sector neglected for long.
He said: “We appreciate that efforts are there, but we need to speed them up. Hydro power generation is the best way out of our energy woes because it is cheap, reliable and efficient. We, thus, need to make meaningful investments in this sector.
“We should not rely on the interconnector [with Mozambique] because the whole of Southern Africa is struggling. We have our resources and we need to develop them.”
The newly commissioned plant, an expansion of Tedzani Hydro Electricity Power Station, has increased Egenco’s generation capacity to 442MW. It has also come at a time the country is facing power challenges with data showing that only 11 percent of the population is connected to the national grid.
In his remarks during the commissioning, Egenco board . chairperson ZangaZanga Chikhosi, who is also Secretary to the President and Cabinet, said the new investment was a step towards increasing the country’s energy access and contribution to economic growth
He said Egenco will continue to improve power generation to reduce the deficit.
Said Chikhosi: “The Tedzani IV construction is a fraction of several other projects the company is working on to improve power supply in the country as the company eyes to improve the current generation mix from 95 percent to 72 percent hydro-based in five years.
“We expect to continue having an improved generation capacity. We have projects in the pipeline, including a 20MW solar power plant at Nanjoka in Salima, a 350MW coal-fired power station at Kammwamba in Neno and the 350MW Mpatamanga Hydro Power Station. These efforts are meant to ensure that we sustain the improved generation capacity.”
In his address, the President also underscored the importance and need to improve electricity generation, saying electricity is critical to the country’s vision to create jobs and wealth as well as achieve food security.
He acknowledged that Malawi has for long suffered power shortages; hence, the country is not in a position to wait any longer.
Chakwera said: “If we do not get things right in our power supply service, it will have a knock-on effect on our vision to create jobs, create wealth and create food security
“That is why I identified and called for investments in the energy sector as one of my administration’s accelerators towards that vision.”
Representing the financiers, Japanese Ambassador Satochi Iwakiri expressed his government’s gratitude for the successful project completion, saying improving electricity generation is a step towards development of the nation.
Currently, hydropower is the main source of electricity in Malawi generating nearly 90 percent of the power. Hydro power plants generate 390.55MW while 51.4MW is from thermal power plants.
Following the commissioning of Tedzani IV, the generation capacity of Tedzani Power Stations now stand at 120MW.
Besides Tedzani Power Station, Egenco also operates Nkula A and B hydro power stations with a combined generation capacity of 122MW, Kapichira I and II with a total generation capacity of 129.6MW, but currently generates 32.4MW each and Wovwe Power Station in Karonga which generates 4.5MW.
In the absence of alternative energy sources, government earlier this year renewed the controversial generator-powered electricity deal contract with Aggreko Power Solutions for another two years.
The contract renewal, according to the government, is subject to review after one year if alternatives will be in place.
The 19MW is equivalent to the current total electricity demand for the Northern Region.