Electricity in Malawi

Electricity in Malawi
Electricity in Malawi
Table 3 collects the data already outlined above for the breakdown of capacity in Malawi. The majority of the installed capacity, 284.4MW, is based on the country’s hydropower plants. While the most recent of the these plants are only 13 years old, the oldest is now nearing 50 years old. According to Escom these plants operated without major problems until recently, when floating weeds and debris in the river have caused operational problems, and damage to intake structures. The status of the reservoirs has also been problematical. These problems have necessitated frequent outages. In addition to the hydropower capacity there are six diesel units, two of 150kW, three of 250kW and one of 1.1MW, providing a total of 2.15MW.
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Malawi is a landlocked state along the East African Rift Valley. The country depends on agriculture for most of its income and exports. It has one of the lowest electrification rates in Africa, with less than 10% of the population having access to electricity. Almost all of its power comes from a series of hydropower plants on the Shire river, that runs through the rift valley. The oldest of these plants in nearly 50 years old. The main electricity company in Malawi is Escom, a vertically integrated utility than is nominally a private company but with all shares owned by the government. Escom has suffered from a poor financial situation for several years, with tariffs barely meeting costs. Recent tariff increases have eased the problem slightly, but the company does not have resources to invest in new capacity, or in extending or refurbishing its transmission and distribution system - which is old and overloaded. The country depends heavily on donor agencies to support the government, but aid was suspended in 2011 after a negative report from the International Monetary Fund. The country has significant energy resources, particularly hydropower, biomass, solar and wind energy, which could all be developed for electricity production, but in order to do so it must attract foreign investment. This, in turn, depends on the government showing itself capable of openness, good economic management, and able to eliminate corruption. If it can do this, then the country offers significant future potential.

This report is a Country Profile, covering:
  • Power generation capacity by fuel input
  • Electricity networks
  • Current power market trends
  • Generation growth
  • Investment opportunities
  • Future project plans


  • An overview of the electricity market in Malawi.
  • Power supply data covering production, imports and exports and the main production sources.
  • Power demand data by market sector and tariff data.
  • An overview of the structure of the electricity sector with government and private sector companies as well as the regulatory status.
  • Power demand forecasts and the development of the power sector to meet expected growth.
  • Transmission system expansion plans.

Key Findings of the Report

  • The country imports refined petroleum products to support domestic consumption, which was estimated to be 12,060 bbl/d.
  • Biomass is the major source of energy in Malawi.
  • Most of the electricity generated in Malawi comes from a series of hydropower plants on the Shire river.
  • The transmission and distribution system in Malawi is based on a backbone of 132kV and 66kV transmission lines that link only the major cities.
  • Tariffs in Malawi have traditionally been relatively low.

Key Questions Answered

  • How does Malawi generate its electricity?
  • What is the status of the national electricity market?
  • What are the key developments in electricity infrastructure?
  • Who are the key players in market?
  • What are the future prospects for investment in Malawi?

Date Published / Pages / Format

January, 2014 / 26 pages / PDF