Energy Minister calls for more investment in ESCOM transmission and distribution networks

Minister of Energy Ibrahim Matola has said the Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (ESCOM)

Energy Minister calls for more investment in ESCOM transmission and distribution networks

By Peter Kanjere

Minister of Energy Ibrahim Matola has said the Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (ESCOM) transmission and distribution network needs upgrading to withstand growing electricity demand.

Matola said this on July 15 2022 in his speech at the ground-breaking ceremony for the improvement of Kanengo and Old Town Power sub-stations project in Lilongwe City, co-funded by the Malawi government and a grant from its Japanese counterpart.

He observed that the distribution and transmission network is constrained due to under investment over the years.

“The country’s transmission network has suffered from many years of under-investment and the system is, as a result, mostly old and outdated. The system is characterised by heavily-loaded transmission lines and transformers, resulting in frequent failures especially during the rainy season, and generally poor quality and unreliable supply,” he said.

The minister further observed that demand for electricity has been growing over the years without corresponding investments in distribution infrastructure.

“As a result, in addition to generation challenges, load has to be shed during peak periods to avoid dangerous overloads on lines and transformers, which would otherwise result in voltage collapse or even equipment failure,” he said.

Matola, therefore, applauded the government of Japan for providing a grant of of 2.89 billion yen towards the two substations’ upgrade through its development arm, the Japanese International Cooperation Agency.

Malawi government will contribute K3 billion to the project.

Speaking earlier at the same ceremony, ESCOM Board Chairperson Fredrick Changaya described the project as a milestone is achieving reliable and quality power supply in Lilongwe and the entire country.

“The project involves upgrading transformer capacity and modernizing substation switchgear and equipment at the two substations to meet load growth projections and ensure operational safety & consistency,” he said.
“It is envisaged that once the transformers at the two sub stations are upgraded, the additional capacity will be equivalent to supplying approximately 21000 & 58,000 new connections from the Old Town and the Kanengo Substations respectively.”

Construction works at the two substations are expected to run from this month of July 2022 to April 2024.

The Japanese Ambassador to Malawi, His Excellency Mr. Iwakiri Satoshi witnessed the ceremony alongside Member of Parliament for Lilongwe City Southwest Constituency, Hon. George Zulu, the Secretary for Energy, Mr. Patrick Matanda and The Chief Representative of JICA Malawi, Mr. Kazuhiro Tambara, among other dignitories.

Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera has placed access to electricity at the core of his government’s development agenda, saying he wants some 1000 megawatts added to the national grid by the year 2024.

National access to electricity is estimated at 12 percent or 553,539 comprising domestic, general and industrial customers.

The country’s projected electricity demand for the year 2022 is 618MW against installed capacity of 528MW (hydro plus solar), available capacity of 355MW and operating capacity: 285MW.

The country’s projected electricity demand for the year 2022 is 618MW against installed capacity of 528MW (hydro plus solar), available capacity of 355MW and operating capacity: 285MW.

ESCOM is a public utility incorporated under the Companies Act of the Laws of Malawi in 1998.

The 2016 Electricity Amendment Act resulted in the unbundling of ESCOM leaving it with functions of System Market Operator, Transmission and Distribution.

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