African Trade Insurance Agency Transparency Tool Records ESCOM’s Impressive Payment Record To Malawi’s Only Operational IPP


By Precious John, Special Correspondent

The Transparency Tool, an online platform that collects and provides information on the payments of national power utilities to Independent Power Producers (IPPs) across sub-Saharan Africa, has recorded an impressive payment trend in Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi Limited (ESCOM). The utility’s payments were to the Ruo-Ndiza hydroelectric power project, the country’s sole operational renewable energy IPP.

The Ruo-Ndiza power project is an 8.2 MW Run-of-the-River plant in south-eastern Malawi at the foot of Mt. Mulanje. Owned and managed by Mulanje Hydro Limited, it was conceived and built by Nyangani Renewable Energy (Pvt) Ltd, Zimbabwe’s largest IPP. The IPP has been supplying electricity to the grid since reaching its Commercial Operations Date (COD) in May 2019 and in 2020 delivered 22,578 MWh into the national grid. This is 1 per cent of Malawi’s electricity generation equivalent to approximately 40,300 households. Electricity consumers in the Mulanje area have commented very favourably on the improved grid stability as a result of the project location adding diversity to the National power Grid. The project was developed on the site of an existing small powerhouse, first installed in 1934, that supplied power to a tea farm and the surrounding areas.

The payments by ESCOM to Mulanje Hydro, for electricity generated and supplied between 1st January and 31st December 2020, were made on average 28 days after the invoicing date – within the 30 day credit period provided in the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) entered into between the two institutions. This is particularly remarkable given the challenges faced by power utilities in the region following the COVID-19 pandemic and will hopefully send a positive message to potential investors in Malawi’s electricity sector.

Launched in June 2019 at the African Energy Forum (AEF) held in Portugal, the Transparency Tool’s primary objective is to address the perceived poor payment behaviour of African power utilities. Alongside the Regional Liquidity Support Facility (RLSF), the Transparency Tool is a key initiative in the ongoing partnership between the African Trade Insurance Agency (ATI) and the German Development Bank, KfW, to encourage additional investments in renewable energy projects on the continent. The tool is developed and hosted by Dun & Bradstreet (D&B).

ATI and KfW, with financing from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), launched the RLSF in 2017. The facility was created to help tackle climate change and attract investments by supporting renewable energy projects in Africa. The facility can be accessed by IPPs located in countries that sign onto RLSF’s Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). To date, seven countries have signed up – Benin, Burundi, Côte d’Ivoire, Madagascar, Malawi, Uganda and Zambia.

In addition to potential access to RLSF, IPPs operational in these countries are able to register for the Transparency Tool as the MoU entered into between ATI and the respective host governments and power utilities allows ATI to record and occasionally publish the payment information without breaching any confidentiality agreements in the PPAs and/ or government support documentation. IPPs interested in using the Transparency Tool are not charged.

Chief Executive Officer, ATI, Manuel Moses said: “We are excited to be in a position to publish the first country report from the Transparency Tool. The tremendous efforts made by the Government of Malawi along with various external stakeholders in improving the investment climate in Malawi’s power sector is bearing fruit as evidenced by ESCOM’s track record in meeting its payment obligations in a timely manner and the number of IPPs that are at an advanced stage in their development and construction. Going forward, we are confident that the publishing of similar reports in Malawi and in our other member countries will encourage greater investment in renewable energy projects by correcting a long held perception that African national power utilities do not pay operational IPPs on time.”

Acting Chief Executive Officer, ESCOM, Clement Kanyama commented: “The recent Power Sector reforms in Malawi have opened up participation of private investment in Power Generation, and Mulanje Hydro Limited (MHL) have been the first IPP to become operational with a long term PPA.  ESCOM is delighted to be part of the success story in as far as timely payment of bills to MHL, is concerned. It is our intention to maintain the good payment record to MHL and other upcoming IPPs. As an off-taker, we appreciate the contribution that the MHL plant is making to the Malawi power Grid. The positive impact of the MHL plant to the local Grid, with extended contribution to the entire National Grid, is quite significant. MHL plant is contributing to reduced system losses, as it feeds directly into the Distribution Network, close to consumers. Its contribution to the national GDP is ten-fold comprising of taxes, salaries and spending on local goods, services and works. Malawi electricity industry is open!”

Managing Director, Mulanje Hydro Limited, Ian McKersie said: “Mulanje Hydro Limited have found ESCOM to be a very competent and reliable counterparty. The Ruo-Ndiza power station is the first IPP to come on line in Malawi and for ESCOM it is the first renewable electricity generator to have been commissioned into the national grid for many years. ESCOM have worked hard to minimise transmission outages. ESCOM have complied in full and on time with all their payment obligations as enshrined in the PPA. As an operator of other renewable generators in the region, it is gratifying to have an offtaker in ESCOM that fully understands and adheres to the terms of the agreed commercial contract.”

ATI will be hosting a virtual energy workshop which will focus on Malawi’s renewable energy sector, on Tuesday, 20th April, 2021 from 1500 – 1630hrs (CAT). A panel of private sector experts and representatives from the key government entities active in the sector has been lined up to discuss and explore the country’s renewable energy space.

Intending attendees are to send an e-mail to to receive the registration details for the virtual event.

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