The Malawi government has set in motion the process to engage a consulting firm to produce the design for a hydropower plant at Mpatamanga Falls, on the Shire river, which is expected to generate between 140 MW and 310 MW.
Energy Minister Ibrahim Matola explains that the World Bank’s International Development Association will finance the project under the umbrella of Malawi’s Energy Sector Support Project.
Matola says the Mpatamanga assignment will include the engineering design for the main structures of the project, after which a full feasibility study report will be produced to allow for the mobilisation of resources for further development of the project, which is expected to cost over $300-million.
Mpatamanga is one of the sites identified as having considerable potential for electricity gene- ration by a previous World Bank-financed study.
The study indicated that Malawi had the potential to generate over 1 000 MW of electricity from a number of sites on the Shire river and on smaller rivers in the country. Besides Mpatamanga, the other sites on the Shire river boasting electricity generation potential include Kholombidzo, which could generate 150 MW to 360 MW, and Zoa, estimated to have the potential to generate between 20 MW and 40 MW.
Other rivers that have hydropower generation potential include Songwe, North Rukuru, Henga, Lower Fufu and Upper Fufu, all in the northern region, Bua, Chasombo, Chizuma and Dwambazi, in the central region.
Malawi generates up to 94% of its electricity at hydropower plants on the Shire river and at a mini hydropower at Wovwe, in the northern region, while the plant of its power is derived from thermal sources.
Meanwhile, the Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) has commissioned the Kapichira 2 plant, on the Shire river, increasing the country’s generation capacity from 272.5 MW to 336.5 MW.
Escom says Kapichira 2 will enable the company to connect many customers, including mining projects, which were failing to take off because of power shortages.
Kapichira 2 is Escom’s eighth power plant, with the others being Nkula A (24 MW), Nkula B (100 MW), Tedzani 1 (20 MW), Tedzani 2 (20 MW), Tedzani (75 MW), Kapichira 1 (64 MW) and Wovwe (4.5 MW).
Matola says the policy of the Malawi government is to commission a new power plant every five years to cater for the rapid increase in demand that the country is experiencing owing to population and industrial growth.
“We are inviting our cooperating partners and investors to partner us in our quest to increase power production,” he says.