By Penelope Paliani-Kamanga
LILONGWE - Malawi’s interconnectivity to the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) to end power woes facing the country is crucial, Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) senior programme officer for the energy sector, Moses Ntlamelle, has said
Ntlamelle, speaking last week at the Regional Electricity Regulators Association (RERA) conference, said Malawi was spending more money running diesel generators as an alternative to lessening the electricity challenges when it could tap electricity from other member states at a lower cost.
“Member states benefit from power trading bilaterally and through the SAPP Electricity Competitive Market where they just go to the pool and bid for electricity at different prices and at different times of the day depending on peak and off-peak prices,” he said.
He said plans were at an advanced stage and, fortunately for Malawi and Mozambique, the issue of signing the Memoranda of Understanding had reached the printing stage and pre-feasibility studies were ongoing as the target as that Malawi will be interconnected in 2022.
Agreeing with Ntlamelle, RERA executive secretary, Elijah Sichone, stressed that the core purpose of the meeting was to brainstorm energy options that would not have any negative impact on the environment while addressing power needs of SADC member states.
“The endowment, in terms of resources, is different from one country to the other and the whole idea in pulling those resources together is to say, as a region, can we start by harnessing those resources that are cost effective across the region, for example, hydro resources that are available in the DRC because hydro power is cheaper,” Sichone said.
Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (MERA) chief executive officer, Collins Magalasi, said Malawi would use the forum to discuss regional power interconnection issues as well as energy sector governance.
“We would also be looking at challenges that are facing the electricity and energy sectors in the region,” Magalasi said.
Energy, Mining and Natural Resources Minister, Aggrey Masi, said that the meeting will help Malawi to explore new technologies as it continues to look for solutions to end the power challenges Malawi is facing.
“This meeting is all about strategising, sharing ideas but also consolidating efforts so that, come 2021, when we will be getting the interconnector, everything should be in order,” Masi said.
The conference was attended by delegates from 11 SADC member states where they discussed the energy crisis in the region.
Countries forming RERA include Botswana, Namibia, Swaziland, Angola, Lesotho, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
In Malawi, where less than 12 percent of the population has access to the electricity grid, the lack of reliable power supply is a major constraint to business and economic growth.
SAPP provides a forum for the development of a world class, robust, safe, efficient, reliable and stable interconnected electrical system in the Southern African region.
It also aims to provide the least cost, environmentally friendly and affordable energy and increase accessibility to rural communities.