Malawi and Tanzania have partnered in sourcing $827 million (about K607 billion) for the joint implementation of the Songwe River Basin Development Programme (Srbdp).
The project component includes construction of dams, hydropower plants, irrigation, river course stabilisation, water supply, fisheries, rural electrification, access broads and promotion of tourism.
Of the $827 million, the hydropower plant alone will require $550 million (about K403.7 billion) while the irrigation scheme will require $99 Million ( about K72.7 billion).
The two governments will also establish an international joint commission to manage and develop the water resources of the basin and further investments aimed at improving livelihoods and opportunities of the people of the Songwe River Basin.
Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Aggrey Massi told a news conference in Lilongwe that the two governments have prepared a memorandum of understanding (MoU)which will be signed at the donors’ conference today.
“Implementation of the projects depends on the availability of financial resources which the two governments do not readily have at the moment.
“The purpose of the donor conference is to sell the project to development partners, including potential investors for financial assistance. The project will be implemented under public-private partnership [PPP] arrangement,” he said.
Head of interim secretariat for the Songwe River Basin Commission (Srbc), Gabriel Kalinga, said people in the basin will be connected to the electricity grid through the rural electrification programme.
He said: “After producing the power, that water could be used for irrigation agriculture. Downstream there is a potential area for 6 200 hectares for irrigation, half from each side of the border and the people would benefit as they currently depend on rain-fed agriculture.”
The construction of the hydro power plant is estimated to take five years and is expected to produce 180.2 megawatts of electricity which will be shared equally between the countries
The Srbdp feasibility study was carried out from 2001 to 2003 with funding from the Nordic Development Fund.
Phase II was detailed design and investment preparation and was implemented from 2013 to 2015 with funding from the African Development Bank.
In Malawi, the Songwe River Basin covers the two districts of Karonga and Chitipa.
The dam was built with the purpose to control flooding as water flows into Lake Malawi. n