6 January 2018

Malawi: Escom Gensets Arrive in Malawi to Minimise Intensify of Blackouts

Blantyre residents on Thursday witnessed the arrival of the much awaited Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (ESCOM)'s stand - by diesel powered generators that are expected to add 78 megawatts (MW) to the country's national power grid by January end and ease extended load shedding hours Malawians have been experiencing which Escom attributed to the decline in the water levels in Lake Malawi and the Shire River.

Escom board chairperson Perks Ligoya, who was accompanied by Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining chief director Chimwemwe Banda, Escom chief executive officer Alexxon Chiwaya and other senior Escom officials, told journalists at Zobue in Mozambique that the arrival of the gensets would contribute to the improvement of power supply by reducing blackouts, thereby improving the country's economy.

Ligoya said by the end of January the gensets will be installed and 78 MW [megawatts] will be added to the national grid.

"All stakeholders and valued consumers shall definitely be communicated on the time frame, but the truth of the matter is that the installation will commence anytime soon so that the stand-by power mitigating measure serves its intended purpose," Ligoya said.

According to Escom officials, out of the total 78 MW, 35 MW will be installed at Chichiri in Blantyre, 23 MW at Chinyama in Kasungu and the remaining 20 MW will be installed at Kanengo in Lilongwe.

Escom, the distributor of electricity, had messed up the procurement of generators hence the delay.

According to published reports, in December 2016, Escom's evaluation committee recommended that lots one and two in Mapanga and Kanengo be awarded to APR energy with evaluated prices of $34.6 million and $24.9 million while lot three at Chinyama in Kasungu was recommended for award to Aggreko International Projects at $18.9 million.

However, when the bids' evaluation team presented its report to the internal procurement committee (IPC), the recommendations were not upheld.

In November 2016, President Mutharika, as part of short-term intervention measures into the power supply crisis, told the nation that Escom would acquire diesel-operated generators on lease basis for an initial estimated period of 18 months.

But the botched transaction not only just affected electricity users, but also failed to meet one of Mutharika's key objectives of his electricity agenda.

Malawi power generation woes moved from bad to worse last year with a loss of 20 megawatts (MW) within a week, a situation that prompted a drastic load shedding programme with some parts of the country staying without power over 24 hours.

With over 129 trucks transporting the gensets and various equipments arriving in the country on Thursday evening at Mwanza Border Post from Mozambique's Beira Port, Malawians can now breathe a sigh of relief.

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