Malawi on Thursday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with China Gezhouba Group Corporation (CGGC) to develop a coal-fired power plant at Kam’mwamba in Neno.
The 300-megawatt power plant is to be implemented at a cost of $600 million and will be the largest single development project Malawi has undertaken since it gained independence in 1964.
Exim Bank of China will be the major financier of the project, while the Malawi Government will also contribute.
Finance and Economic Development Minister, Goodall Gondwe, signed the MOU on behalf of the Malawi Government, while CGGC president Lv Zexiang, signed on behalf of his company at a ceremony held in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Speaking during the signing ceremony, Gondwe said Malawi was one of the poorest countries in the world and that a project of such magnitude would help to move it out of poverty.
“The aim of the government is that before we leave, Malawi should not be called poor,” he said. “This project will have a huge impact on the economy. It will double the amount of electricity.”
Gondwe said Malawi had one of the lowest access to electricity in the world, and expressed the hope that with the planned fire-powered plant, there would be improvement in electricity supply.
Malawi is currently experiencing power cuts on a daily basis, mainly due to dwindling water levels in the Shire River, the country’s main source of power supply.
“We thank you for joining with us to undertake the biggest project we have ever done,” Gondwe told Lv (pronounced Lyu). “The experience we have is that Chinese do things fast and with little fuss.”
He said President Peter Mutharika was “extremely thankful” to the Chinese government, adding that the Malawi government would fulfill every responsibility it shouldered in relation to the project.
In his remarks, Lv described the Kam’mwamba coal-fired power plant as a very important project to the people of Malawi and government, saying it would solve the problem of power shortage in the country.
“We wish that the project can start in the first few months of 2016,” Lv said, speaking through an interpreter.
He said CGGC had taken “some steps to make the project happen” and that China’s Exim Bank was very positive “with the project.”
CGGC, according to its brochure, is China’s number one water conservancy and hydropower brand and is today renowned both at home and abroad for its outstanding achievements in large-scale project construction.
It is CGGC that carried out the famous the multibillion billion dollar, Three Gorges Water Conservancy in Yichang, Hubei Province, China, from 1993 to 2009 that generates 22,500 megawatts of electricity.
Malawi has benefited immensely from China since it cut off 41 years of ties with Taiwan in 1997 and established diplomatic relations with mainland China.
China regards Taiwan as part of it and has over the years tried to isolate the island diplomatically by offering incentives to its allies.
China has over the past eight years given Malawi billions of kwacha for implementation of huge infrastructure projects such as parliament building in Lilongwe, the Karonga-Chitipa Road, University of Science and Technology in Thyolo, Bingu International Conference Centre and the Bingu Stadium in Lilongwe which is nearing completion.
The MOU signing ceremony took place ahead of the Forum for China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) summit which starts in Johannesburg on Friday.
Mutharika, who arrives in South Africa on Friday from the UK, will be among several African Heads of State and Government expected to attend the meeting, the first FOCAC summit on the continent.
FOCAC is an official forum between China and the states of Africa. It was established in 2000 to promote bilateral ties and cooperation between China and Africa through dialogue.
The theme for the Johannesburg FOCAC summit is ‘Africa-China Progressing Together: Win-Win cooperation for Common Development’.-Mana
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