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Wood fuel continues to be the dominant source of energy in the economy. It accounts for about 93% of the total energy consumption. Demand for wood fuel exceeds the available sustainable supply and the deficit is increasing every year.

Electricity generation comes mostly from the 4 hydro-electric power stations on the Shire River begun in 1989. But irregular water flow on the river, especially in the dry season, and problems with silting (build up of sediment) often make power supplies unreliable, a problem particularly damaging to industry.

Coal is imported to supplement local production, which because of under-investment is mined below capacity. All petroleum stocks are imported.

The aim of the Department of Energy in Malawi is to fully satisfy public need for quality modern energy services by effectively governing and facilitating the development of the robust, sustainable and efficient private sector-driven energy industry.

The government’s energy policy, known as the National Energy Policy (NEP), aims at improving the energy sector’s contribution to the realization of the country’s Vision 2020 and Poverty Reduction Strategy. The policy was approved in January 2003. It sets out short and long-term policy priorities and strategies for the management of the energy sector. High on the agenda are issues of energy sector reforms to improve technical and economic performance of energy supply industries, the enactment of legislation for improved energy sector governance, and rural electrification initiatives. The NEP also aims to establish a more liberalised and private sector driven energy supply industry.

The National Sustainable and Renewable Energy Programme (NSREP) was officially launched in September 1999. The major objective of this programme is to promote the use of renewable energy technologies in Malawi including solar photovoltaic and photo-thermal, wind energy, biogas and biomass briquettes. NSREP is an umbrella programme for all renewable energy projects being implemented by various donor organizations such as UNDP, Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) and Global Environment Facility (GEF).

Plans & Projects

In June 2003, it was announced that Hidroelectrica de Cahora Bassa (HCB), a joint-venture between Portugal and Mozambique's Electricidade de Mocambique (EDM), won the tender to supply Malawi with electricity for a 20 year period starting in 2004. According to the tender documents, the Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi will be responsible for the transmission line from the dam town of Songo to the Malawian commercial capital of Blantyre, and will have to obtain the necessary funding. The cost is estimated at US $80 million. HCB will eventually supply Malawi with up to 300 MW of power, though it will initially begin supplying 100 MW. The two countries began work on the interconnection of their respective electricity grids, in 1998.

In 2003, Malawi has continued to experience frequent electricity shortages due to damage to the country's power stations caused by severe flooding, and as a result of the overall lower than expected water levels on the Shire River. Additional problems result from the continuing breakdowns in the country's power transmission network. The Shire River supports four Malawian hydroelectric plants, which account for the majority of the country's electrical output. The previously stated deal on the construction of the131-mile power-supply link from Mozambique's Cahora Bassa Dam, is designed to decrease the country's reliance on the Shire River hydroelectric plants. Currently, the lack of available resources prevents the project from moving forward. Additional work continues on the Kapichira hydroelectric power scheme that is designed to add 128 MW to the country's current capacity.

Key Figures

  • Electricity Produced: 1.69 billion KWh (2007)
  • Electricity Consumed: 1.572 billion KWh (2007)
  • Electricity Exported: 0 KWh (2008)
  • Electricity Imported: 0 KWh (2008)

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