Simbi touts K28bn game changer: Lake Malawi water project by Khato Holdings

Khato Holdings Limited, a South African-based firm owned by a Malawian Ashani Simbi Phiri has given constructive justification for the cost and timeline of the  $500 million project   to pipe water from Lake Malawi to Lilongwe, the capital city.

Simbi Phiri: project which is set to stimulate the economy and create vibrant, equitable and sustainable communities

Simbi, Khato’s founder and chairperson, told a group of journalists from Malawi at the firm’s headquarters in Johannesburg, South Africa that his  multi-billion kwacha investments are expected to create over 10 000 jobs.

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 company, through a joint venture of Khato Civils (Pty) Limited and Zambezi (Pty), was contracted by Lilongwe Water Board (LWB) and Malawi Government to install the water pipeline project following a closed tender process involving over six companies and a successful business pitch at the Malawi Investment Forum (MIF).

Simbi told journalists that a recent critique by Kenneth Wiyo, an associate professor at Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (Luanar) who is also a certified registered engineer with over 22 years of experience on power supply needed to pump the water was baseless.

He said the bidding documents of the project can be inspected, saying his company was 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.

“We are very much aware of the scope that the project is going to take. Firstly, while others may seem to argue with us on the cost of the project, what we can say is that not all the R500 million will be coming to us as Khato,” said Simbi.

“We are professional at what we do and we guarantee that our works just as you have seen here have standards.

“Before we even started implementing the project, we had already met some Electricity Corporation of Malawi officials on the power challenges that Malawi is facing.  To this end we resolved to use other alternative energy sources which include solar, wind and diesel up to the period when the company is able supply secure power to the grid.

“We have a lot of technologies coming from Europe on solar battery tech and we will ensure that this is done in time.”

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.”

Simbi 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.

“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,” Simbi said.


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Risbon Cornea
Risbon Cornea
5 years ago

My calculation indicates that MK375billion by 130 km, is 2.9Billion kwacha per kilometre. Seriously this is too much. And this project will supply water to Lilongwe only. Not even any other district. This does not seem sustainable to me considering the financial stress we are in. To construct a borehole it costs about 600 000 malawi kwacha. Now if we can have 10 000 boreholes across Lilongwe, every household will have water for atleast washing and bathing, and then the current water supply will be enough for drinking and cooking without stopping. That will cost 6 billion only and we… Read more »

Saona wa ku Jerico
5 years ago
Reply to  Risbon Cornea

Kkkkkk Mr Risbon Comea can you run a factory using bole hole water? You are forgetting what it takes to have such huge modern project to be completed. Just a reminder consider the following: Feasibility studies, Detailed designs, ferrying equipment to the site, actual construction, construction of resaviors, installation of treatment plants to ensure that water is potable. Again do not forget that this is a permanent perennial water supply system. Remember also that the project will help to create jobs in Malawi unlike a bole hole. Do you know how much it costs to maintain a bolehole? and How… Read more »

Chilungamo Chimawawa
Chilungamo Chimawawa
5 years ago

the best way is to have a twin brother project that aims at reafforestation of the bare land along river banks and in the hills and mountains so as to provide vegetative cover. this will reduce the terrible climate change that is affecting water supply into lake Malawi.

Likongwe Ligomeka
Likongwe Ligomeka
5 years ago

Please do not tell blatant lies to Malawians that there was an open tender process for this contract. We know that all process was done in secret under the table with the usual corrupt figures and believe you me, huge sums of money is being siphoned here. This tender was supposed to be an open International Competitive Bidding so that the best contractor should be identified through transparent process throughout. PAC, please this is another big job you have and do not let tax payers to be channeled to greedy people like this. This is why Malawi is continuing to… Read more »

5 years ago

My calculations say its a MK375 billion project and not MK28 billion. However, I ask Mr Lilongwe Ligomeka to know that even if it was not an open tender project, potential and interested investor in the project remains Simbi because he has the financial muscle to do the project. Otherwise Malawi Government never expected anybody to come up with such a challenging massive project any soon. All what I am expecting are the results (ie seeing water being pumped to Lilongwe for domestic use). A Malawi inchifukwa chake sititukuka. Mantha too much.

5 years ago

We are watching! ESCOM says Lake Malawi water levels went down by 1.5m and are not recovering despite heavy rains causing floods in some parts of the Centre and North. Here we are planning to pump 50million litres per day from the same drying lake and expect continuous power from generators that needs much water in the Shire river from the same Lake Malawi. I can foresee one of these plans failing to meet the expectations and this is how we plan always hence causing the country to be perpetually poor.

5 years ago
Reply to  Tadala

Big man do you trust ESCOM on water levels of lake Malawi ? these guys are liars man

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