ESCOM losing 5 transformers every month due to vandalism

A transformer that’s usually targeted for by saboteurs

* Over 400 transformers currently lost due to vandalism across the country

* Very costly to replace them as one costs around K4 million

* ESCOM needs about K2 billion every year to replace vandalised transformers

By Loness Gwazanga, MANA

As the country keep experiencing power load shedding due to many factors that include loss of 130 megawatts lost at Kapichira Hydro Power Station due to Cyclone Ana in January, Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (ESCOM) has disclosed it has lost over 400 transformers due to vandalism across the country.


The power lost at Kapichira Hydro Power Station is 32% of the national grid and on top of loss of infrastructure that ESCOM is experiencing due to vandalism of it national power grid lines which is prompting the utility service provider to execute emergency load shedding outside its scheduled programme due to insufficient power supply.

At a media engagement on issues emerging in the energy sector on Monday in Blantyre, ESCOM’s public relations officer described the vandalism as a major setback in connecting new customers since transformers are paramount in any connection.

Destruction at Kapichira Dam due to Cyclone Ana

“Every month, we are losing an average of five transformers and to replace them is very costly as one transformer costs around K4 million,” Kanjere said. “Therefore, ESCOM needs about K2 billion every year to replace the transformers because this does not only affect service delivery, but it is also deprives ESCOM the much needed revenue.”

Kanjere, therefore, urged the general public to safeguard ESCOM infrastructure because once they are tampered with, it affects the whole economy.

Deputy Director of Energy Affairs in the Ministry of Energy, Joseph Kalowekamo said the country plans to have 1,000 megawatts by 2025 against the current 528 megawatts through various activities lined up.

Kalowekamo said although the country lost the 130MW during the Cyclone Ana, there is still hope that in three years’ time, things will change for the better.


“Mpatamanga Hydro-power project along the Shire River has a potential to generate 300 megawatts. We also have the Kammwamba coal-fired power plant which also has the potential to generate 300 megawatts.

“We also have independent power producers that have expressed interest to invest in the power sector. It’s an ambitious target but we hope we are going to make it,” Kalowekamo said.

The media engagement, that targeted personnel from both the Eastern and Southern regions, was organized by the Ministry of Energy in collaboration with ESCOM, Power Market Limited, Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (MERA) and National Oil Company of Malawi (NOCMA) aimed at equipping journalists with relevant skills to enhance accurate reporting.


In June, when ESCOM disclosed that power that went off the national grid on June 18 was due to vandalism, Malawians took to social media to condemn this development being done by some unscrupulous people.

Initially, ESCOM had thought it was just a technical fault in which 100 megawatts of power went off the national grid before establishing that it was due to vandalism on its power line from Nkula Hydro Power Station to Blantyre.

Immediately ESCOM’s Chief Executive Officer, Kamkwamba Kumwenda held an impromptu press conference where he explained that the saboteurs had cut off about 100 meters of its line at Kameza in Blantyre and went away with it, which caused a major system disturbance.

Vandalised equipment discovered last month

Thus the affected part of the grid resulted in tripping off of the affected line as well as the generating machines, resulting in system collapse.

That incident of national blackout — which lasted about three hours — was the 5th since January this year and a leaked internal communication indicated that the vandalised equipment included massive conductor on Nkula A Blantyre 66kV overhead line on Structure 56 at Kameza.

Meanwhile, ESCOM security employees are on serious patrol around vulnerable areas to combat vandalism, which itself is a costly exercise.—Additional reporting by Duncan Mlanjira, Maravi Express