Mining & Energy
Zambia says it owes Mozambique US$53M in electricity imports, not US$70M
The Southern Times (File photo)
Mozambique has indicated that power exports to Malawi could begin in 2022, almost two decades after the two countries signed a power sharing agreement.
Once Mozambique switches on power, Malawi will pay Mozambique US$480,000 per month for its electricity.
Initiated in 1998, the project failed to take off, because former president Bingu wa Mutharika argued that Malawi was too poor to afford the monthly bill.
Construction of the USD120 million power lines linking the two countries will begin in 2018, according to Mozambique’s Infrastructure Development Management Limited.
In the 2017/18 fiscal year, Malawi allocated USD18 million for the energy sector.
“Energy is a catalyst for socio-economic development. In this regard Malawi is implementing programmes and projects aimed at improving energy generation, transmission and distribution,” Malawi President Peter Mutharika said in his state of the nation.
The project will involve the erection of a 218 Kilometres high voltage powerline with the capacity to transmit 200 megawatts.
Mozambique will construct 140 kilometers while 78 kilometres will be the responsibility of Malawi. The key element in the interconnection will be a 400KV transmission line between two substations, one at Matambo, in western Mozambique province of Tete and the other at Phombeya in Malawi.
In Malawi, only nine per cent and one per cent of the population have access to electricity in both urban and rural areas, respectively despite Malawi signing a power deal with Mozambique under the Southern Africa Power Pool (SAPP) in April 2013.
The members of SAPP have created a common power grid between their countries and a common market for electricity in the SADC region.
In the new deal both countries can either import or export to each other depending on excess.
However, currently Malawi is unable to export power because it has a deficit in its generation capacity hence frequent load shedding programmes.
The country’s demand stands at 300 megawatts against production of 200.
Mateus Magala, president of Mozambican state power company Electricidade de Moçambique (EdM), said he expects financing of the project to be completed within three years and that construction of the line will take three years, and most of the energy will be produced by the Cahora Bassa hydroelectric project, according Mozambican daily newspaper O País.
Mutharika said Malawi has set out to expand, diversify and liberalise energy production as a final farewell to blackouts and load shedding programmes in the country.
Among other things Mutharika cited the enactment of the Electricity Act of 2016 that created the Electricity Generation Company (EGENCO), which took over the electricity generation function from Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (ESCOM).
“Completion of a feasibility study and environmental and social impact assessment for Malawi and Mozambique power interconnector, commencement of the Malawi Rural Electrification Program (MAREP) Phase 8 which will connect 336 rural centres throughout Malawi to the national electricity grid and completion of feasibility studies for the 300-Megawatt Kamwamba Coal-fired Power Plant”, he said.
But business captains in the country remain unconvinced with government’s plan and programmes for the energy sector claiming the government was adamant to resolve the energy problem.
A few weeks ago, ESCOM publicly announce that Malawi will experience intermittent power supply for the next five years unless the country gets adequate rains.
However, ESCOM’s Commercial and Customer Service Manager Wizeman Kabwazi said the company has initiated several mitigation measures to minimize the impact of the power crisis.
Apart from the cross border power connection with Mozambique, ESCOM has fast tracked the installation of Light Emitting Diode (LED) bulbs, hired 78 MW emergency generators, will procure 70 MW from independent solar producers.
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