Malawians will continue grappling with power woes as the repair of a 32 megawatt (MW) power plant at Kapichira Power Station awaits German engineers and machinery delayed by global travel restrictions.
Electricity Generation Company (Egenco) chief executive officer William Liabunya disclosed this on Friday on the sidelines of a familiarisation tour of Kapichira Power Station in Chikwawa by newly-appointed Minister of Energy Atupele Muluzi.
He said while progress has been made on another 32MW plant whose spare part repairs are being done in South Africa, German engineers and their equipment were unfortunate to have met with the global travel ban following the coronavirus (Covid-19)outbreak.
He said: “The works started Friday and we are sure that before the end of next week, this machine should be back online and relieve load shedding. Another machine, whose parts were being manufactured in Germany needed two months to be completed.
“However, after finishing manufacturing, they could not find a plane to get it to Malawi on time so we cannot tell as to when this can arrive but at the same time, they also required that engineers from Germany should come and fix that.
“Because of restrictions on travel, we can also not tell, but I think mid April we could come up with the position as to when we can complete the repairs.
Muluzi, while acknowledging the energy challenges the country is facing, said progress on 120MW solar power projects earmarked to be completed this year have been delayed due to Covid-19.
He said looking at the future, there is need for the much-needed comprehensive plan to alleviate the energy challenges facing Malawi, including expediting the interconnection with Zambia as well as turning to other energy sources.
Muluzi said: “Within the power sector, we also have other players and it is extremely important to make sure we stablise the power grid.
“There will be need for further rehabilitation works that will take place during Easter period that will see complete shutdown at Kapichira but with minimal disruptions. We should see power stablising after this.”
Malawians are currently experiencing a seven-hour Electricity Management Programme (EMP) due to inadequate supply from Egenco and Aggreko with Egenco generating an average of 200MW.
In an interview last week, Escom public relations manager Innocent Chitosi confirmed the seven-hour EMP from March 21 to March 24 2020, adding that the average peak hour power demand is at 300MW but the corporation was getting about 255 MW from Egenco.
Escom has set a 2022 target to meet electricity demand, largely from the power interconnection deal with Mozambique currently being worked out.
In December 2019, demand for electricity during peak hours stood at 303.1MW.
Egenco generates most of its power through hydro with 136MW from Nkula Hydro Power Station (A and B), 102MW from Tedzani (I, II and III), Kapichira 129.6MW and Wovwe 4.5MW.