Less than two months after President Peter Mutharika commissioned diesel-powered generators to end electricity blackouts in the short term in the country, extended load shedding periods have returned.
For the past two weeks, electricity consumers in the country have been experiencing long hours of power outage.
Electricity Generation Company Limited (Egenco) Senior Communications Officer, Moses Gwaza, said the recent blackouts are a result of low rainfall in the Southern Region.
“There are two factors; one of them is that we have not received much rainfall in the past two weeks but also we had a technical problem with one of the generators. But that has been fixed and [we] will get back to normal production soon,” he said.
Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) has said the extended load shedding periods are because production of electricity from the major power supplier, Egenco, has dropped by 20 percent.
According to a statement released on Friday by Escom, the drop has been observed from March 14 this year.
“From Wednesday, 14th March 2018, the amount of power received by Escom from Egenco has reduced by 20 percent. In an effort to balance the operation of the power system, some customers may experience prolonged load shedding periods outside the published Electricity Management Programme,” reads part of the statement.
However, some sections of the public claim that Escom is failing to fuel the standby generators which Escom leased from Aggreko, a pact which ends in the next two years.
“That is not true. The generators are up and running,” said George Mituka, Escom spokesperson.
The coming in of the standby diesel generators provided Escom a good reason to raise electricity tariffs by an average of 16 percent to shoulder the cost of fuel.
Malawi consumes about 350 megawatts (MW) of electricity during peak hours and, currently, Egenco is producing 200MW. An additional 55MW is being provided by Escom’s standby generators.
Last year, Malawi experienced the worst prolonged load shedding periods and, according to Escom, this was an attribute to low water levels in Lake Malawi and Shire River where over 90 percent of electricity is produced.
The government is banking its hopes to end electricity power crisis on an interconnection deal with Mozambique and Zambia, a project being financed by the World Bank and the European Union.