Malawians should expect improved power transmission and distribution as three projects being implemented under the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) are on track.
Zilani Khonje, Communications and Outreach Director for MCA, told journalists in Lilongwe on Friday that some of the components within the three projects had gone beyond 50 per cent.
Through MCA, Malawi is expected to have amplified power transmission through the installation of new transformers, establishment of power substations in all the regions and interconnection of electricity to Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Further, it is expected that through the project, Nkula A power plant will be refurbished which will in turn improve the reliability of the plant, extend its useful life and avoid the plant’s partial or total failure.
Khonje said it was pleasing to see all contactors on the sites and working hard to meet their deadlines.
She said: “As an office, we are pretty sure that come 2018, all projects shall be completed and by that time, it is clear that Malawi as a country shall have a better and improved power system.
“Actually under MCA, we are running three projects which are infrastructure development, power sector reform and the environment and natural resource management.”
She said the infrastructure development project, among other things, includes the rehabilitation, upgrading and modernizing ESCOM’s generation, transmission and improve the capability of the transmission system, and increase the efficiency and sustainability of hydropower generation.
“This is designed to upgrade the backbone of Malawi’s transmission network to: improve the quality and reliability of supply in the northern, central, and southern regions of the country; increase the capacity to move power from the south; reduce technical losses on transmission lines and provide a secure transmission link between the southern and central regions.
“The funding is also supporting the 400 kV power line (the transmission ‘backbone’ of the Malawi power system from Phombeya in Balaka to Lilongwe, which covers the southern and central regions of Malawi and the 132kV line parallel to existing 66kV and 33kV lines from Chintheche to Luwinga and from Luwinga to Bwengu in the northern region,” she said.
The Power Sector Reform and The Environment and Natural Resource Management Projects are aimed at providing support for the Government’s policy reform agenda and building capacity in pivotal sector institutions: ESCOM, the Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (“MERA”), and the Ministry of Energy (MoE) and address the growing problems of aquatic weed infestation and excessive sedimentation in the Shire River which cause costly disruptions to downstream power plant operations.
The department of Environment and Natural Resource Management is also expected to improve land use and watershed management practices in the Shire River basin by addressing underlying environmental and social issues.
Nkhonje, however, appealed to government to look for more companies in the areas of power generation as the MCA project only concentrates on power transmission and distribution.
“Government should continue to seek and attract sustainable investment from the private sector and other donors to add significant amounts of new generation to the system,” she said
Larsen and Toubro (L and T) Construction Manager, Manoj Goel told reporters at Nkhoma substation that everything was in place and come November 2018, the transformers would be handed over to Malawi government.
“We are receiving good support from MCA and the government and we are working to meet our deadline,” said Goel.
Currently, the company is constructing a concrete foundation which will support the 200 megawatts amp (MVA) transformer. The transformer and all the other equipment will be on site for installation by March 2017.
MCA-Malawi director of Infrastructure Development, Felix Nkhoma said by the end of the Compact Term, the Infrastructure Development Activity, together with the Government’s commitment to complete construction of Kapichira II, will result in increases in generation capacity (from 286 MW to approximately 356 MW),
Nkhoma said the project would also improve the network capacity (from 260 MW to approximately 410 MW) and distribution capacity (from 868 MVA to approximately 1,078 MVA), and reduce the total system losses from 23 per cent to around 18%.