ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION, erosion and siltation along Malawi's largest river, the Shire, is being blamed for some of the ongoing power blackouts in the country.
Malawi has all of its major three hydro power generating stations on the Shire river, which flows out of Lake Malawi. Minister of Energy and Mining Hetherwick Ntaba said recently that Malawi was losing US$338M a year as a result of erratic power supplies. The minister made the observation at a three-day symposium on Environmental Geology in Blantyre, Malawi’s commercial capital.
Recent floods, as well as erratic flows in the Shire, have been attributed to siltation and deforestation of the Shire watershed. Hydroelectric power generation is the largest component of the country’s power system, which has a total capacity of 355.3MW and is small by regional standards. In 2000, Escom’s total installed capacity was estimated at 304MW, of which 94% was hydroelectric power, with the rest generated from thermal sources.