Vice-President Saulos Chilima has said government will facilitate the development and implementation of a two-year joint Escom-Egenco plan to achieve steady electricity supply in Malawi.
In a Facebook post on Wednesday night after meeting management teams of Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) and Electricity Generation Company (Egenco), Chilima said the initiative will ensure surplus production of power that will sustain industry.
He said: “We are putting mechanisms in place that we will be making public sooner or later to ensure that issues of interrupted power supply are completely dealt with.
“This notwithstanding, we will also review all the interventions at hand to make sure that they make financial sense to the economy in the quest for power generation.”
Chilima said during the meeting, Egenco presented several challenges choking its operations, including billions of kwacha in unpaid electricity bills sold to Escom, the non-conclusive unbundling process that has left Egenco without legal title of assets, high operating costs from running diesel generators and environmental degradation of the Shire Valley catchment area.
He added that Escom also presented its challenges, including a K1.8 billion average monthly bill that Egenco charges, but which Escom finds unsustainable, and non-payment of bills by some government ministries, departments and agencies.
Chilima has since pledged to help the parastatals address the challenges.
“All the challenges that they presented will be dealt with at a decision-making meeting that I will hold together with other government stakeholders with the two institutions so that we must all go to work as soon as possible,” he said.
Egenco chief executive officer William Liabunya in an interview yesterday said the 24-month plan would work as a starting point to sustain the current stable supply and to increase the generation capacity in the short to medium-term before looking into long-term measures.
He said: “Electricity is key to the growth of the economy; hence, the need to sustain good supply. Currently, we have several projects, including the 20 megawatts [MW] solar power project in Salima, which is one of the key projects for the short- to medium-term. We are also looking at other alternatives like gas which could also be in the quick-fix means, but the detailed 24-month plan will come up with various initiatives after thorough consultation.”
On his part, Escom public relations manager Innocent Chitosi asked for more time before commenting on the matter.
Malawi has continued to face power supply challenges from the national grid despite licensing a number of independent power producers, most of which are yet to rollout.
Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry is on record as having said that load shedding affects business output and slows down economic growth.
Egenco generates most of its power through hydro with 136 MW from Nkula Hydro Power Station (A and B), 102MW from Tedzani (I, II and III), Kapichira 129.6MW and Wovwe 4.5MW.