Malawi-Mozambique Power link October

Staff Writer, The Nation

Ministry of Energy has set October 2024 as the new deadline for the commissioning of Malawi- Mozambique Power Interconnector Project after missing the December 2023 target.

The 218-kilometre (km) 400 kilovolts (kV) high voltage power transmission line, which starts from Matambo in Mozambique to Phombeya Power Sub-station in Balaka District will enable Malawi to tap 120 megawatts (MW) from its neighbour to boost supply locally.

In an interview yesterday, Ministry of Energy Principal Secretary Engineer Alfonso Chikuni attributed the delay to the nature of the work which involves two countries and the pace of the contractor.

He said: “The project is trans-boundary being implemented in Malawi and Mozambique, therefore, it is proving to be complex in terms of progress.

“On Malawi side, the works are progressing well and we are at 80 percent, but the geographical features in Mozambique have resulted in the delays as the contractor had to redesign some sections of the line.”

Chikuni said they have written the contractor together with the Government of India to ensure they execute the project as quickly as possible.

He said works have progressed on the Malawi side up to 80 percent, but progress for the whole project is not impressive, particularly activities on the Mozambican side.

Ministry of Energy director of electricity Million Mafuta, in an interview on Tuesday, said progress of the whole project is at 39 percent, but remained optimistic of beating the October deadline as the most time-consuming works have already been done.

He said: “On the Malawi side, foundation works for 113 towers have been completed with 27 towers already erected while in Mozambique, foundation works for 115 towers have been completed and 11 towers have already been erected.

“Works on substations are underway in both countries. Overall, the progress is at around 39 percent with engineering and design at 98 percent, procurement at 66 percent and construction at 22 percent.”

On Malawi side, the project is being implemented by Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom).

In an earlier interview, Escom chief operations officer Maxwell Mulimakwenda attributed the delay to the nature of the project, but assured that efforts are being made to ensure it is completed on time.

“Projects of this nature face delays. This is a big project and there are a lot of things involved,” he said.

The power interconnector is one of the projects expected to improve the power situation in the country.

Currently, Malawi has a total installed capacity of 554.24MW of power of which 101MW is from solar sources, according to Escom.

The interconnector project involves the construction of a power transmission line in Malawi, a power substation in Mozambique and connecting it to an existing substation as well as construction of a road in Mozambique.

In November 2021, President Lazarus Chakwera and his Mozambique counterpart Felipe Nyusi presided over the launch of construction works for the power interconnector transmission line.

However, construction works only started in March 2023, with the contractor, Larsen and Toubro Limited, an Indian multination construction firm, assuring that they would finish by December 2023.

Larsen and Toubro is executing the project alongside Gola Civil Engineering Contractors Limited.

Chakwera said the power interconnector will upgrade the country’s profile from an observer to a fully operational member of the Southern African Power Pool.

The power interconnection project was abandoned in 2011 after the Malawi Government said the project was costly.

It was later signed by the two governments in April 2013 and the process has continued since then.

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