Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) has partnered the private sector, which has freed 23 megawatts (MW) of electricity to ease supply challenges to domestic customers during peak periods.
Escom director of system and market operations Charles Kagona said in an interview the partnership will see some firms voluntarily operating during off-peak hours, freeing 23MW for use by residential customers.
He said they have so far partnered Illovo Sugar (Malawi) plc, Salima-based Malawi Mangoes Limited, Miscor, Huamin Steel as well as Health and Beauty Care Limited, thereby minimising the impact of load-shedding.
In return, Escom has offered the companies a tariff incentive.
The 23MW, which is enough to serve roughly 23 000 customers or supply Nkhata Bay, Mzimba including Mzuzu and Rumphi, is made available to domestic electricity users during the peak hours of between 7am to midday and 5pm to 8pm.
Malawi is experiencing an acute shortage of power supply due to, among other factors, non-availability of Kapichira Hydro Power Station that resulted in loss of 129MW in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Ana.
The situation has gotten worse with the advent of the cold weather, which has impacted supplementary power generation from solar PV facilities connected to the national grid recently.
Kagona said while solar power has helped ease power supply problems by providing some 80MW to the grid, there were still challenges.
“On a good sunny day, solar power is really assisting to the effect that Escom can afford to reduce the load-shedding,” he said.
On the supply side, Escom is also discussing with Illovo to run the sugar manufacturers generation machines iparallel to the power utility’s system.
This arrangement would enable Escom to supply the sugar manufacturer with electricity only when they have a shortfall, thereby releasing some power for other customers in the system.
Illovo Sugar (Malawi) plc managing director Lekani Katandula said the partnership was driven by the desire to create a thriving community through provision of affordable food and energy.
“This is why we are optimising some of our requirements by shifting our irrigation patterns to take more power during off peak hours,” he said.
Katandula, who is also Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry president, said their intervention of shifting production to off-peak hours has helped to reduce power demand by four megawatts, adding that the company was further discussing with Escom on more ways to save power. Malawi Mangoes director and head of agriculture operations Ignatious Majamanda said they have fully embraced use of power at off peak hours.