As efforts to assess impact of last month's Tropical Storm Ana in Malawi continue, the country's only power generating company says it has lost about a third of its generating capacity to the storm. Meanwhile, the government has appealed to donors to contribute toward the cost of rehabilitating the station, which it says is beyond its financial capacity.
Officials at the Electricity Generation Company, EGENCO, say Malawi has lost about 130 megawatts following the shutdown of its Kapichira Power Station in the Chikwawa district due to last month’s Tropical Storm Ana.
William Liabunya is EGENCO’s chief executive officer.
“We have lost the dam here because the control mechanism that we had to take the water to the intake of the machines has been destroyed," he said. "We had the training dike and that has been washed away, and on the dam wall you have seen that now the water is passing through the dam wall and therefore we cannot hold any water at the dam and through that, we cannot generate any electricity.”
EGENCO operates four hydropower stations in Malawi: Nkula, Tedzani, Kapichira and Wovwe according to its website.
The company also operates thermal and solar power plants. Overall, it has a total installed generation capacity of over 440 megawatts, with about 390 of it from hydropower plants and about 50 megawatts are from thermal power plants.
The damage at Kapichira has cost the company 30% of the total hydropower generation.
Liabunya says plans are underway to construct temporary structures to help bring power back but he said he was not certain how soon that would be.
“We have just consulted an expert to look into this issue. In our own resource at the company we have looked at it, and we are saying that for the temporary structure that we want to put and quickly restore the power generation, we are looking at six months the time that will be required but that is to be verified by the consultant as he finishes the expert analysis of the work,” he said.
The storm also killed at least 90 people in Madagascar, Mozambique and Malawi.
The Department of Disaster Management Affairs says in Malawi, the storm killed 32 people and displaced 188,000 from their homes in 17 districts.
Meanwhile, donor partners and well-wishers including United Nations agencies in Malawi have started providing aid to victims.
Malawi’s Minister of Energy Ibrahim Matola is appealing to donors for help in rehabilitating the power station.
“These works cannot be done with only our local purse because we are so exhausted with other related issues. However, I would like to call upon the international community; The World Bank, IMF, European Union, Britain and the Americans to come and assist us,” he said.
Matola says Malawi would need about $23 million for the temporary rehabilitation of the damaged Kapichira Power Station.
In the meantime, some businesses in affected areas have closed temporarily, while others are using gasoline-powered generators.