JB upbeat new Malawi power plant to curb blackouts, boosts ‘transformational agenda’

Malawi President Joyce Banda on Friday opened a new hydro-electric plant, which will add 64 megawatts to the 352 megawatts to the national power grid and is expected help to minimize blackouts .

Launching the 55-million-dollar Kapichira II plant in the southern district of Chikhwawa , President Banda described the  new power plants as a “great relief to most Malawians.”

“My Government attaches great priority to the generation of and access to electricity. No economy can meaningfully develop without energy supplies,” said President Banda.

President Banda launching the new power plant

President Banda launching the new power plant

Blackouts are so frequent that sole electricity provider, Escom was forced to change its slogan from “Power all day, every day” to “Towards power every day.”

President Banda noted that many projects have been put on hold because of lack of adequate electricity.

Banda however called on ESCOM to “reform and align” with her transformational agenda.

“I will not tolerate a business-as-usual approach. We must think outside the box, act outside the box if we have to be innovative and transformational. Let there be light in every corner of our country. Let there be light in every home. Let there be light in every village,” said President Banda in remarks broadcast on national TV and radio MBC.

President Banda pointed out that electricity challenges “still do exist mostly because the problems are structural in nature and require serious levels of investment. .”

She said: “In order to keep pace with the rate of economic growth and electricity demand, it is the intention of my Government that Malawi should be able to commission a new generation station or plant every five years.”

Banda also disclosed that her government is conducting a number of feasibility studies on potential sites for different energy sources.

“The World Bank is supporting us with feasibility studies at Fufu Falls on the Rukuru River, at Mpatamanga falls on Shire River, and at Chimgonda on Dwambazi River. The African Development Bank is supporting feasibility studies at Kholombidzo on Shire river and at Manolo on the Songwe river. Once these feasibility studies are concluded, we will have a catalogue of sites with their generation potential for investors to participate,” she said.

She said government has decided to diversify away from hydro-electricity by constructing a Thermal (or coal fired) power plant at Kam’mwamba in Neno.

“My Government signed a Memorandum of Understanding and a Commercial contract with China Gezhouba Group Company, which will be engaged as the contractor for the project. Recently our officials had discussions with the China Exim Bank who are expected to finance the project,” Banda informed.

The President also said Malawi is implementing the Electricity Interconnector Project with Mozambique.

“As most of you are aware, as soon as I assumed power in 2012, I travelled to Mozambique where, among other things, I and my Mozambican counterpart, President Armando Guebuza, signed an inter-Governmental Memorandum of Understanding on Energy.

“Then in April 2013, our Ministers of Energy, signed the Electricity Interconnector Agreement at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe. Our Government and utility officials are now working on the technical agreements. In fact, last week, officials from Electridad du Mozambique were in Malawi for the negotiations,” she said.

Banda also said Malawi government with technical and financial support from the Millennium Challenge Corporation of the United States  is implementing the Compact which  should have been operational by 2012, but was suspended due to governance issues under the late Bingu wa Mutharika regime.

“My Government cleaned out those issues and on September 20th 2013 the Compact entered into force,” noted Banda.

President Banda being briefed about the new power plant

President Banda being briefed about the new power plant

Let there be light everywhere in Malawi: President Banda at the launch

Let there be light everywhere in Malawi: President Banda at the launch

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