The piece “Malawi eyeing several interconnectors to solve power woes” featured below was initially published in Malawi’s Mining & Trade Review Issue Number 37 that is circulating this May 2016.
The full edition is available for download here. This monthly publication is edited by Marcel Chimwala.
Malawi eyeing several interconnectors to solve power woes
By Chiku Jere
Government says notable progress is being made towards sourcing power from neighbouring countries through interconnectors in an effort to address Malawi’s historical power woes.
This was disclosed by Spokesperson for Energy Affairs in the Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, Joseph Kalowekamo, in his response to Mining & Trade Review questionnaire as regards both long and short term remedies the country is exploring to address its energy problems.
Kalowekamo said groundwork has already been commenced and three feasibility studies are on course to set stage for actual work.
Among others, he said, feasibility studies are underway for the first phase of the Mozambique – Malawi interconnector which will involve the construction of a 400kV power link between Tete in Mozambique and Phombeya in Malawi.
If all goes on well, the project is expected to be commissioned in 2018. Electricidade de Moçambique (EDM), the power utility in Mozambique, has committed to provide 50MW to Malawi as part of the agreement. World Bank is funding this Southern Africa Power Pool (SAPP) project,
He said the World Bank is also financing another feasibility study that will interconnect Malawi and Tanzania with a 400kV line from Nkhoma in Malawi through Songwe to Tanzania.
This project, which will also interconnect the SAPP with the Eastern African Power Pool making Malawi a key player in the power trade, is linked to the Songwe Hydro-Power Project which Malawi wants to implement in partnership with the northern neighbour.
Kalowekamo reported that a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Governments of Malawi and Zambia last year to facilitate implementation of a project to construct an interconnector linking the power grids of the two countries.
The World Bank is also financing the feasibility study for the project, which entails the development of a 330kV power line connecting Chipata in Zambia and Nkhoma in Malawi, under the Energy Sector Support Project (ESSP).
Interconnectors that are at concept stage include a ‘second phase interconnection’ between Malawi and Mozambique which will involve the construction of another 400kV line from Phombeya in Malawi to Nampula Province in Mozambique.
This will enable Malawi wheel power from the energy-rich Tete Province which boosts of both hydro and coal fired power stations to Nampula Province. This interconnection offers a great relief in power deficit through power imports and also sets open a door for exports to the regional market in times of excess power,
Kalowakamo said Malawi also plans to upgrade the existing power connection between the border town of Lundazi in Zambia and Chikangawa in Malawi. Lundazi is supplied by a 33kV line from Chikangawa, which is a terminal substation on a 66kV line from Chintheche.
Malawi intends to upgrade the Lundazi – Chikangawa – Chintheche to 132kV which can deliver about 30MW. Chikangawa is about 76km from Lundazi and 71km from Chintheche.
It is quicker and cheaper to do this option compared to the other options,”
Malawi’s current electricity demand is projected to be in the region 400 MW with the expected rise to 1000MW by year 2020 against the installed power generation capacity of 351.75MW, which is also riddled with intermittent power supply as a result of ageing generation, transmission and distribution equipment and environmental effects on the Shire River where the country sources up to 98% of electricity.
Malawi’s low electricity access rate, pegged at 9.8% as of August last year with less than 2% in rural areas, has created overdependence on traditional biomass as a source of energy catering for 85% of the energy needs.
The Department of Energy Affairs attribute this wholesale reliance on traditional biomass energy as a major contributing factor to rapid environmental and deforestation in the country.