Faced with pressure to increase power generation, Electricity Generation Company (Egenco) has embarked on a K5 billion project to dredge sediment load lying on the bed of Shire River at Nkula Falls to increase water storage.
The project comes at a time Malawi is struggling to produce adequate electricity due to low water levels in Shire River which is experiencing acute environmental degradation that has, among others, led to debris from upstream rivers flowing and clogging the river whose water is used for power generation.
Egenco chief executive officer William Liabunya said in an interview this week there were a number of interventions his organisation— currently producing about 160 megawatts (MW) of the installed generation capacity of 351MW—was implementing to minimise extended power rationing.
Apart from diesel-powered generators, Liabunya said Egenco has engaged Portuguese construction and multi-disciplinary conglomerate Mota-Engil to excavate silt at Nkula dam.
He said: “We are going to spend K5 billion removing silt at Nkula. We have subcontracted Mota-Engil to excavate the silt.”
Recently, The Nation reported that besides government efforts to control siltation that has become an impediment to the generation of electricity, other stakeholders such as Shire River Basin Management Programme were working on rehabilitating the degraded catchment areas of the Shire River and the rivers that flow into it.
Horace Nyaka, Shire River Basin Management Programme communications specialist, said the interventions being promoted include soil and water conservation technologies, rainwater harvesting technologies, agro-forestry and forestry interventions and conservation agriculture.
Besides the dredging exercise, Liabunya said Egenco has also embarked on expanding Tedzani A estimated to cost K4 billion on top of what a Japanese company that was implementing the project was spending.
In a related development, he said German firm Fitchner has been contracted to upgrade Wovwe Mini Hydro from 4.5MW to 10MW to supply the Northern Region.
He also said the company has acquired land in Likoma for solar power production to supply the islands of Likoma and Chizumulu during the day before reverting to generators at night.
Currently, Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) is implementing one of the worst load shedding schedules which is seeing consumers experiencing up to 25 hours of no power supply.
Government is also doing feasibility studies at Fufu on South Rukuru River with the potential capacity of 120MW, Mpatamanga Gorge on Shire River with the capacity of 300MW, Kholombidzo Falls also on Shire River with the capacity of 150MW, Chimugonda with the capacity of 60MW and Kam’mwamba thermal powered plant with the potential capacity of 300MW.
Egenco is said to have secured $200 million for the development of Mpatamanga Gorge hydro-electricity power project, which will include a dam. The project’s estimated total cost is $600 million. n