Construction of the 300 megawatts (MW) coal-fired power plant worth $295 million at Kammwamba in Neno has gathered pace and it is expected that by April, the plant would have started producing power, Energy Minister Ibrahim Matola has said.
Malawi has coal reserves estimated at 22 billion tonnes, according to the government, mainly located in the northern and southern parts of the country, but this plant will use coal from Tete in Mozambique.
Matola told Business News on Monday said the plant will help the country to generate more power to meet its energy demand, particularly in the mining sector.
“Currently, we are producing 351 megawatts, but the mining sector requires 300 megawatts for it to function without hitches. We are talking about mines such as the one at Kayelekera, Njeleza and there are high prospects of bauxite mining in Mulanje as well as limestone in Kasungu,” he said.
Matola said in Mangochi as well, there are heavy sands and cement and if Malawi produces enough energy then no investor will complain of lack of energy.
“As a country, we have lost a lot because most miners say that our energy is not enough, hence take our minerals outside the country unproccesed,” he said.
Matola said the country’s energy needs are growing by the day, hence the need for government to intensify looking for energy in other areas.
“Exim Bank of China will fund this project and we have already sent the plans to them. With the cordial relationship that we have with this bank, we do not expect any problems,” he said.
Matola said the country’s demand for electricity in the country is rising to the extent that the manufacturing and processing industry needs 400MW per day.
“As a government we are serious in solving the energy problems in the country because this will curb deforestation. Imagine the Green Belt Initiative requires 200 megawatts, the service sector 500 megawatts and it is expected that by 2020 domestic demand will be at 950 megawatts,” he said.
Matola said Malawi has signed the interconnection contract with Mozambique as one way of ending power problems.
“Malawi is one of the only two countries not connected to the Southern African Power Pool and now we will be able to sell power to Mozambique as well as Zambia.
“In Zambia, there is a growing demand for power due to the increase in copper mining and we have to reposition ourselves in readiness for these developments,” he said.
Malawi generates most of its electricity from hydro sources and only seven percent of Malawians have access to electricity, while the remaining 93 percent depend on firewood and charcoal for energy requirements, according to Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom).