The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (Opic), the development finance institution of the United States government, says Malawi’s private sector can benefit up to $1 billion (about K740 billion) financing opportunity from the agency.
Opic managing director Nancy Rivera said this on Thursday in Lilongwe when she and her delegation held discussions with Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) and other officials on the implementation of 30 megawatts (MW) solar project in Nkhotakota.
Speaking at a private sector dinner hosted by RBM in Lilongwe, Rivera said Opic is delighted to provide finance to the Nkhotakota Power Project to contribute to solving the country’s power challenges.
She said she is aware that government is keen to improve infrastructure development and the power sector, which is key for the economic growth.
Rivera said the $1 billion private sector financing opportunity has been announced after noting that Malawi is keen on expanding the private sector growth, but insufficient power has been hampering investment; hence, the interest in energy, banking and infrastructure development, among others.
Said Rivera: “As a lender and a development bank, best practices are critical for us, the private sector should run their businesses in a profitable and responsible way.”
US Ambassador Robert Scott said he was excited about the project in Nkhotakota as it complements the $350 million (K259 billion) energy compact which was provided by the US government aid agency, Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC).
He said with the deal, Malawi will have an independent power producer that will bring stable and low-priced power to the national grid.
On his part, RBM Governor Dalitso Kabambe challenged the private sector to take up the opportunity for the development of the economy as well as job creation.
He said: “We have enjoyed single digit inflation for some time now. We have currency stabilisation, which we can brag about. We have at least lowest interest rates which we can talk about, we have a prevailing and conducive macroeconomic environment that we can discuss.
“However, these are not enough. We need jobs, we need to create wealth and that is the duty of the private sector. We need to see projects picking up. We have moved from $5 million to $50 million from the Opic financing and we need to get more.”
Kabambe said the country will by next April have about 20 to 30MW of power ready supplied into the national grid.
Speaking on behalf of the private sector, Press Agriculture Limited chief executive officer Morut Martin Isyagi said in as much as the private sector may be ready to take up the opportunity, profitability of businesses and ability to repay the loans remains key.
He said: “This is an opportunity for us, but when you borrow money you need also to have the capacity to pay.”