After three years of talk and no action, the process to start work on the 300 megawatts (MW) Kam’mwamba Coal-Fired Power Plant Project in Neno, with a lifespan of 30 years, seems to have started, The Nation has been established.
Kam’mwamba Power Generation Company Limited (KPGC), a special purpose vehicle to implement the project, is seeking suppliers of limestone of between 17 600 and 21 000 tonnes per year, to be used during the operation of the power plant.
The commencement of the project, which will be the biggest investment in the energy sector to take about three years, raises hopes for improved power supply in the country and is critical to attract investments, particularly in the mining sector.
The project is expected to be implemented under the Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) model, which is a particular form of contracting arrangement used in big projects where the contractor is responsible for all the activities from design, procurement, construction to commissioning and handover of the project to the end user or owner.
In a published statement, KPGC is inviting firms to supply limestone for the desulfurisation process of the flue gasses to mitigate against environmental pollution.
In an interview on Monday, Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining spokesperson Saidi Banda said the project, being the first of its kind, is moving at a snail’s pace as government along with stakeholders, continue to evaluate its smooth implementation.
He said there are many agreements that have to be entered into such as coal supply and Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) agreements.
“The call for limestone for the project is among processes government is embarking on to commerce the project. We can confirm that all necessary paperwork to ensure that the project is implemented effectively and efficiently is on course,” said Saidi.
He said he could not predict the exact month when the project will start, but said there are strong indications the project could start next year as negotiations with various players are underway.
Once operational, the plant would help Malawi to diversify from using hydro power, which of late has proved to be challenging due to low water levels, but also bring a number of advantages.
“We see this project supporting industrial growth as there are expectations of opening of mines and creating jobs,” he said.
Energy consultant Grain Malunga, who is also former minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, said completion of the project is critical, arguing that it has potential to improve electricity supply in the country.
“We see the project boosting the energy sector. You may wish to know that the deposits [of coal] are enormous. It is pleasing that the project is taking shape because these are the resources we should have tapped long time ago,” he said.
Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI), which has complained of subdued production due to power deficit, has called for speedy implementation of the project, as power outages have taken a toll on industrial output.
MCCCI chief executive officer Chancellor Kaferapanjira said the private sector is keen to see long-term solutions to electricity problems and developments such as these in the energy sector could improve the business outlook.