Minister of Energy Newton Kambala has warned that government will engage a new investor if work continues to stagnate at Mbongozi Hydro Power Project in Ntchisi.
This is an energy generation power project on Bua River, which is being implemented by HE Power—an independent power producer—which started in 2018.
Speaking on Tuesday after a tour of the project site to appreciate progress, Kambala said the country is currently struggling to ensure adequate power supply; hence, it cannot keep on waiting forever.
“Currently, we would like him [the investor] to speed up processes so that they reach financial closure and if that cannot happen in the next three to four months, government will have to come in and bring other investors who may have to partner with him otherwise we may be wasting a lot of time,” he said.
Upon completion, the power plant is expected to generate 41 megawatts (MW) of power and construction was anticipated to take three to five years at an estimated cost of $200 million (about K150 billion).
In an interview, Hemant Bhagat, chairperson and managing director of HE Power, admitted that there is a lot of work involved.
He said: “The financial closure cannot happen within four months [because] that is huge work, but work on the ground can begin within the next six months.
“The major challenge for us is that this is the first project of this magnitude in the country to be done by the private sector and it seems the country was also not ready for it. However, we both kept on improving and things started working and we started getting government support.”
Bhagat said the dam that is to be constructed along Bua River for the hydro power project will be 22 times bigger than the Kamuzu Dam in Lilongwe.
“It will have the capacity to hold 400 million litres of water,” he said.
The project covers 38 square kilometres and HE Power is expected to get financial support either from African Development Bank or Cairo-based African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank).
HE Power finalised a power purchase agreement in 2018 with Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi to enable it roll out the project.