Electricity Generation Company (Egenco) is having difficulties maintaining power supply on the national grid following the breakdown of Kapichira Hydro Power Station.
Egenco spokesperson Moses Gwaza was reacting to an announcement by Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) that it was experiencing power supply deficit due to routine maintenance works at Tedzani I and II by Egenco.
This has resulted in the loss of 20 megawatts (MW) and Escom has alerted customers to brace for prolonged load shedding outside the load shedding programme.
According to Gwaza, the company previously could do such routine maintenance works without the public noticing any power supply interruption.
He said: “The biggest problem is that Kapichira is still out, any maintenance works on the small machines, for example at Tedzani I and II, is having an impact because the major ones are not available.”
Commenting on the matter, Escom spokesperson Kitty Chingota said the corporation was engaging relevant authorities to help bail Malawi out of the challenge.
“As per our mandate, we supply what we receive. However, we are engaging independent power producers (IPPs) in trying to rectify the challenge,” she said.
Kapichira Power Station dam structure was extensively damaged by Tropical Storm Ana, which hit Malawi and most southern Africa countries on January 24 2022.
Due to the aforementioned damage, the station is unable to generate power, taking out 129.6MW from the national grid (about 32 percent of Egenco’s generation capacity).
Egenco supplies 442MW to the national grid from both hydro and diesel generators.
Consumers Association of Malawi executive director John Kapito said in an interview on Sunday that it’s high time authorities got serious and fixed Kapichira Power Station.
He said prolonged blackouts have a huge bearing on the country’s economy as industries and small-scale businesses cannot operate without electricity.
Said Kapito: “These prolonged blackouts are subjecting consumers to a lot of pain. And there is nothing we are hearing on Kapichira, I mean, how long can a serious government take to repair the station damaged about five months ago.
“With all these economic challenges the country is going through, we need industries to thrive and people to have money.”
Recently, Bankers Association of Malawi chief executive officer Lyness Nkungula said customers’ access to cash is being hampered by network issues and electricity outages lead to extra costs for the banks because they often rely on alternative sources of energy.
She said: “Banks have to make sure that customers are served at all times and the systems are supposed to be running 24/7. We hope this problem will be over soon.”
Power Market Limited chief executive officer Rosemary Mkandawire said besides the Kapichira crisis, government should empower Egenco to manage various projects to enable electricity generation.
Egenco said it needs about K18 billion to restore and repair the damage at Kapichira Hydro Power Station. It said the project would take six months.
Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources and Climate Change chairperson Werani Chilenga recently asked the Ministry of Energy to release the needed resources from the Malawi Rural Electrification Programme (Marep) to restore Kapichira.
However, the Ministry’s Principal Secretary Patrick Matanda said government is looking at various options to save the situation, including the Marep funds suggestion.
Egenco said it needs about K18 billion to restore the damage at Kapichira Hydro Power Station.
It said the project would take six months.
In the absence of Kapichira Power Station, only 312MW is being generated.
Egenco whose total installed generation capacity stands at 441.95MW.
Malawi requires about 1000MW.