JICA hands over Project for Improvement of Lilongwe Substations

The Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has handed over the Project for Improvement of Substations in Lilongwe, a development the Malawi government has described as a game-changer to the country’s energy sector.

The project has made it possible for the substations of Lilongwe Old Town and Kanengo to accommodate 79,000 new electricity connections following the increase in the former’s capacity from 37.5MVA to 50MVA and the latter from 83MVA to 158MVA.

Speaking when he graced the handover ceremony in Lilongwe on Tuesday, May 7, 2024, Energy Minister, Ibrahim Matola, said the project, which involved upgrading the Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi-owned substations, would spur economic development in the capital city and the surrounding areas.

Matola said the project complements the government’s commitment that the country should have stable and reliable electricity to spur socio-economic development.

“It is the wish of the government that, as a country, we should achieve the target of increasing access to electricity by 50 percent by the year 2030 for both grid connections and off-grid connections. This project contributes directly to increasing access to the national grid as it makes available more capacity for new connections,” he said.

“Furthermore, this project complements the country’s blueprint which is Malawi Vision 2063 which seeks to ensure that the country becomes an Inclusively Wealthy and Self-Reliant Nation. Investing in the energy sector to ensure stable and efficient supply of electricity in the country is one of the pillars of Malawi 2063.”

Taking his turn before the Minister, ESCOM Limited Board Chairperson, Morgan Tembo, said the upgrading of the substations was in line with the country’s national goal of increasing access to the national grid to 30 percent by the year 2030.

“For us to realise these goals, ESCOM needs to grow its customer base in the next six years from the current 565,000 customers to 1,695,000 customers. For this to happen, there is a need to increase capacity in our substations which is what this project did. We are glad that this project has brought so many technological benefits that will improve service delivery. These include reduced power outages which occur due to overloads, improved record keeping of system performance, and system reliability,” he said.

The Ambassador of Japan to Malawi, Yoichi Oya, described the handover ceremony as another milestone in the bilateral relationship between Japan and Malawi.

“In January this year, we gathered for the partial handover of Kanengo Substation. Later in March, we handed over the transformers at the Old Town Substation. Today, I am more than pleased that we are here to celebrate the completion of the entire project. The Government of Japan committed JPY2.89 billion Yen (about MK 23 billion for the project, which will contribute to Malawi’s efforts to improve electricity supply in Lilongwe City. It truly reflects the commitment of the Government of Japan in supporting Malawi’s efforts for its social-economic development,” Oya said.

The project became a reality after the governments of Malawi and Japan, through JICA, signed a grant agreement via a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on 18th October 2021.

The signing of the MOU was followed by the ground-breaking ceremony on 15th July 2022 at Old Town Substation

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