Minister of Forestry and Natural Resources Nancy Tembo has courted entrepreneurs in the country to think of turning water hyacinths (namasupuni) in Shire River into briquettes as an alternative source of energy.
The minister said this on Monday when she visited Kamuzu Barrage at Liwonde in Machinga to appreciate its operations in managing water flow and how the newly-installed weed boom across the river operates.
She said tonnes of water hyacinth cleared from the river can be turned into a moneymaker instead of just dumping it somewhere.
“We need an entrepreneur who is resourceful enough to make something like briquettes out of the weeds.” Tembo said, adding: “Our worry is that if we just dump the hyacinth somewhere, it will be washed back into our rivers by rains.”
The minister expressed satisfaction with the way the barrage and the weed boom are functioning, saying with the weeds and water flow controlled at the barrage, hydro electricity power plants downstream are now working efficiently.
Tembo called on the public to seriously manage the environment by preserving nature and ensuring that the country’s river banks are well covered with trees and grasses.
She said the visit helped her familiarise with infrastructures under the Water Department in her ministry.
National Water Resources Authority acting executive director Oswald Mwamsamali said the upgrading of the barrage has seen the Shire River rising up to 40 centimetres in water levels upstream.
He said the barrage, coupled with the amount of rains the country received during this year’s rain season, has seen water levels in Lake Malawi hitting a record high in years.
The Kamuzu Barrage was upgraded recently under Phase 1 of the Shire River Basin Management Project with funds from the World Bank.
The upgrading included fixing of 14 new gates across the Shire River and replacing the weed boom across the river with a modern one.