There is an apparent growing demand for electricity from the mining sector, a development likely to overwhelm the Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) if nothing is done to increase the power generation.
Kapichira Falls station manager William Liabunya said in an interview on Saturday, there are a number of mining companies that have shown interest to be connected to the Escom power grid.
Â â€œThere is an increase in demand for electricity on paper due to the mining boom. Kanyika [whose owners are Globe Metals and Mining] approached Escom a few days ago, demanding to get five megawatts (MW) from our grid and there are also other mines that are interested.
â€œTwo weeks ago, Kayerekera [Uranium Mining Company] also approached us requesting a supply of 10 megawatts,â€ said Liabunya on the sidelines of a tour of the site by the Malawi Institution of Engineers (MIE).
Currently, Escom has the capacity to generate about 285 MW against a suppressed demand of about 386 MW, but experts and engineers project Malawiâ€™s total demand at about 1 000 MW.
Liabunya expressed optimism that the sole power supplier will meet the demand.
â€œBecause of the electricity pricing that has been introduced, more private investors are being attracted into electricity generation. There are a number of projects that are lined up for implementation, for instance, the multi-purpose dam on Songwe, North and South Rukuru and Shire River has not been exhausted for more power plants.
â€œWe are also planning to have a power generation plant in the Northern Region to stabilise losses in transmission to the North,â€ he said.
Two weeks ago Paladin Africa Limited, owners of Kayerekera Uranium Mine in Karonga, indicated they will soon stop using diesel-powered generators and will connect to Escomâ€™s power grid in September 2013.
According to Paladin, the mine uses about 1.5 million litres of diesel a month.
Paladin is said to have been using diesel powered generators since its works started in 2007 because of Escomâ€™s lack of capacity to provide reliable electricity.
But the miner now has confidence in Escom due to the upgrading of Kapichira power plant which will double Kapichiraâ€™s capacity from the current 64MW to 128MW.
The Kapichira Phase II, which is expected to be completed by December 2013, is seen as a critical milestone for the country because the last time Malawi added new generation capacity to the national power grid was in 2000 through the Kapichira Phase One project.
The mining industry in Malawi is expected to boom and this will certainly drive up demand for electricity.
Last month, Minister of Energy and Mines Dr Cassim Chilumpha indicated that government has issued 65 mining licenses.Â