Simbi in a $500-million project to pipe water from Lake Malawi to Lilongwe: 4 000 jobs to be created

A new day is dawning for the people of Malawi with a multimillion dollar project to pipe water from Lake Malawi to Lilongwe, the capital city.

Simbi Phiri: Mega water project for Malawi is a springboard for transformation

The project which is set to stimulate the economy and create vibrant, equitable and sustainable communities in the country with 17 million people and which is also known as the ‘Warm Heart of Africa’.

Simbi Phiri, chairman of Khato Civils and South Zambezi confirmed that his companies were the successful bidders in the open tender process for the project that will pump over 50 million litres of water a day from Lake Malawi to Lilongwe.

An estimated 4 000 jobs will be created in the duration of the project. Most of the employment opportunities will be in auxiliary services to complement the core personnel of Khato Civils and South Zambezi.

There will be a lot of quarrying, and the project will need heavy machine operators, drivers, engineers, welders and those who will be involved in rebar and mortar construction.

The project entails a steel pipeline that stretches over 130 km and will have three big pump stations to ensure that there are no bottlenecks in the flow of water to the capital. It also features a water treatment plant and three reservoirs in Lilongwe.

Khato Civils has invested in two cutting-edge Tesmec Trenchers able to dig 2km per day of trenches for laying pipes. Each of the Tesmec Trenchers is worth about $2-million (R26-million) each.

“We are excited about the project and will deliver the best value to the people of Malawi. We continue to make sure as a company that we invest in the best equipment, latest technology and innovation to deliver the best quality projects in an environmentally sustainable manner.”

Phiri explained that the project would improve the lives of millions of people, not only in Malawi but the whole region. He said such a massive infrastructural project would open up investment opportunities.

“All aspects of our lives are dependent on water. As we have done in other countries in which we operate across the Southern Africa region we are creating conditions for millions of people to have adequate drinking water and good sanitation which are important elements to human life,” Phiri said.

He sees the project as a springboard for transformation in a country, which like many developing countries faces serious challenges in terms of coping with chronic water shortages and the inadequacies of their existing water infrastructure.

“This ground-breaking project will be catalyst for growth as it not only will improve drinking water sanitation, hygiene and waste water management. It will see the growth of industries and the manufacturing sector leading in the growth of new towns. This will also drive growth in foreign direct investment since many companies consider water resources when making decisions about where to invest or locate their facilities,” Phiri said.

In another matter, Phiri emphasised that there was great benefit to be derived from encouraging the continent’s construction and engineering companies to strengthen collaboration and the sharing of skills, knowledge and resources if Africa is to achieve its goals for infrastructure development and dealing with skills shortages.

“No country has ever developed by using exclusively its own engineers. Skills should be drawn from the whole world. In some instances, engineers are engaged on a needs basis.”

He said the industry should also double its efforts in encouraging young people to take up engineering as a viable career option; by unpacking the wealth of opportunities the sector has to offer.

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US$500 million is outrageous, how was this cost arrived? Malawi is becoming a real cash cow for con-men, and believe it or not several political heavy weights will be beneficiaries of this money, and you will be lucky to have enough water. Has an EIA been done on the impact of reticulation of water from the lake at the estimated volumes?


Malawians you are being lied to: 50 million cubic meters of water/day translates to 18.25 cubic kilometers of water/year. According to a very reliable study by Tom Johnson, Lake Malawi’s water budget is 78.5 cubic kilometers of water/year (inputs: 38.5 km^3/year from rainfall, 40.2 km^3/year from river inflows; output: 65.2 km^3/year from evaporation and 13.8 km^3/year from river outflows), so what will be the effect of an additional output of 18.25 km^3/year from this broad-day robbery of a project?!

Go ahead, simbi, actually many Malawians are known to be subjective than objective… THEY are happy when they are called very poor country,,,,,,,,,,, they don’t even know the boundary between poverty and prosperity… That’s why they always want to talk about drawbacks, never shall they sit down and appreciate positive side of project…… Who don’t know that any project need money, yet they think simbi can bring water from lake Malawi to the uplands without money, they don’t know that Simbi now will enhance water cycle,,,,,,,water is a renewable resource. once its in the reservoirs, god is busy to create… Read more »
Risbon Konea

$500million is about 380 billion Kwacha. Thus 25% percent of national budget. For christ sake thus way alot, especially considering the level of corruption in Malawi. The deal doesnt sound better to me. The same money can establish 375 000 modern boreholes (assuming one borehole can cost up to MK1 Million which cannot even happen). So with 375 000 Boreholes, we can use this water for washing, irrigationg etc, and then leave the water from waterboard for drinking.

Ma***** anu amalawi, you cant think?? Dunderheads.!!!


Amalawi simuzatheka,ain’t u the same people who were saying lake Malawi isn’t being fully utilized ? pano ma projects akuyamba mwayamba kudandaulaso.

Malawians do you the Lake can sustain such ambitious projects. We already talk about green belt and its related irrigation projects, electricity down shire river, shire zambezi waterway, local use amongst thousands of people and businesses along it, then supply the whole capital city and its catchment areas. There are cheaper and more sustainable ways of supplying water to Lilongwe using that kind of money like localized ground pumps and protected water harvesting systems. We are already lamenting about climate change, environmental degradation etc. AMalawi lets think about what will happen in 10, 20 or 50 years to come. Plan… Read more »

Eeeh kaya nokha. Lake Malawi water for irrigation, electricity, shire Zambezi waterway and supply the whole Capital and its environs for domestic purposes while neglecting the much touted climate change and environmental degradation. Ndiye pali oil and gas exploration pompo. You guys are joking. For such amount of money there are better and cheaper sources of tapping water like underground drilling.

zuzo dekha

timva tangukhala chete

Government must do proper feasibility studies before embarking on this project. There is alot of money involved but it appears to be a very expensive way of taking water to the capital city. By the time we will say lets leave this thing because its expensive to run, our money will have gone. I dont remember having seen tender results for this project or adverts for bid invitation for this project in the papers. Recently we have also just seen the contractor donating motorcycles to police and a donating buildings within a short time followed by winning of this big… Read more »

Ha ha haaaa, Malawians and Kuba. Is Diampwe dam constructed and dry already that you need to be pumping water using electricity from ESCOM, the very escom bastards who are failing to power our fridges and reading light regularly! How many Chapondas we have this this god forsaken country!!!

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