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ESCOM says rains falling currently not enough to obviate blackouts

LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)—The country’s utility body, Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) has disclosed that the blackouts will continue despite the rains currently falling in some parts of Malawi.

Escom said the rains currently falling in some parts of the country especially in the south were not a guarantee to stabilize electricity provision.

Power outages is the order of the day in Malawi

Escom, which relies on water to produce its power, told Malawians in September this year to brace for extended hours of load-shedding, as it has no immediate solutions to the power cuts.

The power utility company attributed the problem to low water levels in Lake Malawi and Shire River, the major sources of hydro electricity generation in the country.

In an interview with The Nation the utility body’s Public Relation Officer George Mituka said that the recent rains are too little to revive Shire River water flows.

Mituka said the river’s current flow is at 115 cubic metres per second against 260 cumecs required to normalize the situation.

“In short, the recent rains are too insignificant to bring any fifference in the Shire River flow. The current flow is 115 cubic metres per second [cumecs], against a required of 260 cubic metres per second,” said Mtuka as quoted in The Nation.

He added that the required Shire River’s water flow will be attained when Lake Malawi level rises to normal.

“Otherwise, we may have to rely on some tributaries downstream of Liwonde to help in generation if the rains are good enough in the south. The forecast this is that there will be heavy rainfall in the south with possible floods. Unfortunately, Shire flow depends on the Lake Malawi level which gets its water from the Centre and North,” he added.

But in his national address on Monday, President Peter Mutharika offered short solutions to avert electricity blackouts including procurement of 46 Mega Watts’s diesel peaking generators which will be ready for use in Lilongwe and Mzuzu, acquiring of 78 Mega Watts of Emergency Power Plant by ESCOM on lease basis for an initial estimated period of 18 months.

While long term solutions include Generation, Transmission and Distribution Expansion and Reinforcement.

“The carrying capacity of the Transmission Lines will be increased to about 1,150MW by 2018 and a 400kV Transmission Line is currently being constructed from Phombeya (Balaka) to Nkhoma,” said Mutharika.

The Line is expected to be completed by September 2018. The Phombeya Sub-Station will be the landing point for the Malawi-Mozambique Interconnector.

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