The United States (US) government has described as crucial steps taken by the Malawi Government towards establishing the Mpatamanga Hydro Power Project, saying this will provide a reliable source of continuous power, cutting supply deficits in the country.
The US expressed the views in a brief made available to Business Review following the start of the $1 billion (about K1 trillion) project, which will be done under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement.
US Ambassador David Young is quoted in the brief as having said that the project, which will utilise the US-funded transmission infrastructure under the $350.7 million (about K362 billion) energy compact to add 350 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy to the country’s generation capacity, would foster economic prosperity.
He said: “Increasing the reliability of electricity is on the mind of everyone and expanding access will unlock innovation, wealth creation and help power the economy towards a more inclusive future.
“The power sector is very complex and, as such, the needs will continue to grow as the economy grows; hence, investment in the power sector is crucial to help Malawi attain a better future,” he said.
Young said the US will continue to mobilise resources from across the US government’s different programmes such as the Power Africa to allow and help move the country forward in its endeavour to improve electricity access.
Meanwhile, Malawi is struggling to produce adequate power, with only 10 percent of the country’s 18 million people having access to electricity, according to the Malawi Sustainable Energy Investments Report.
The Mpatamanga Peaking Hydro Power Project is, however, expected to deliver electricity to approximately two million people and lead to the abatement of 520 000 tonnes of carbon dioxide, annually.
Energy consultant Grain Malunga, who is also former minister of Energy and Natural Resources, in an interview described the project as crucial, saying it remains the country’s key project in effort to ease power shortages.
He said: “Malawi is energy-hungry where the country is still far away from achieving our energy needs.
“We see and hope that the Mpatamanga project, with the coming of the private sector, would bring efficient energy and reliable supply in the county.”
Minister of Energy Ibrahim Matola also indicated in a statement that the project will improve the power supply security and provide opportunities for increased renewable energy generation capacity in the country.
Located on the Shire River, the scheme comprises two power plants, namely a 309MW peaking plant at the main dam and a 41MW base power plant at the regulating dam.
The 309MW peaking plant with its 261 million cubic metres reservoir storage, is designed to provide energy during peak demand hours of the day and overall grid stability with its ability to ramp up/down production to suit actual demand.
Other supporters of the project include Global Infrastructure Facility, the World Bank and United States Agency for International Development and the Public Private Partnership Commission.
The US government through the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) helped the country to stabilise the electricity grid and increase the volume of electricity that can flow through the system.
Through MCC, US government refurbished the Nkula A Hydro Power Station, adding 12 megawatts of clean energy to the country’s power supply.
Through the project, MCC constructed and or refurbished 26 sub-stations and supported the construction of a 175 kilometre long transmission line, among others.