Malawi Institution of Engineers (MIE) has expressed concern over the slow rate of increasing power generation and heavy reliance on the Shire River for hydro-power generation, citing this as a draw-back to the economic growth.
In its analysis of the 2019/20 National Budget, the engineers’ body said there is direct correlation between power supply and economic development; hence, government should allocate more funds towards support and for the implementation of budding and existing power projects.
“MIE has noted with concern the toning down of attention towards the 300 MW Kam’mwamba Coal Fired Power Project while embarking on new projects whose lead time from design to commissioning may take up to 10 years,” said MIE secretary Martin Chizalema in a statement the body released this week.
She said MIE is also eagerly following developments surrounding the implementation of the interconnection of Malawi’s grid to the Southern African Power Pool (Sapp) as well as interconnection with Mozambique, adding the projects ‘could go a long way in ensuring Malawi’s energy security and lay a strong foundation for industrialisation.’
MIE concerns coincide with a major boost from the World Bank group which last Friday approved $57 million (about K42 billion) towards the Malawi–Mozambique Regional Interconnector Project.
The engineers, however, among others, wants government to fast track implementation of and adherence to the Independent Power Producers (IPPs) framework, saying this creates an opportunity for private sector participation and guides the development of new power generation to achieve the least cost of production per unit of energy.
“We want government to reduce over-reliance on Electricity Generation Company (Egenco) which seems set to the bulk of new power generation plants.
“Government should also consider speeding up the phasing out of the use of the Aggreko diesel generators, which have proven very expensive and which were meant to provide relief for two years, as other sources are quickly added to the grid,” Chizalema said.
In this fiscal year, government has allocated K40 billion to the energy and mining sector, which is almost twice the amount allocated in the last financial year at K21.7 billion.
Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Joseph Mwanamvekha said government will in its drive to grow the economy help Egenco with financing of its power generation programme.
“Among others [the programme] aims to diversify energy sources away from hydro to others such as coal, solar and wind for resilience in power supply,” said Mwanamvekha, when he delivered his budget statement to Parliament in Lilongwe on September 2 this year.