Chakwera commissions solar energy power plant in Salima; To add 20 megawatts to national grid

Chakwera touring the solar power plant

* Malawi needs reliable sources of energy for its national development —Chakwera

* “There are so many partners of goodwill ready to help us develop this sector”

* “This is clean energy and a model for green future the country wants”

By Grace Kapatuka, MANA

President Lazarus Chakwera has finally commissioned construction of the country’s first of its kind construction of solar energy plant which is expected to add 20 megawatts of power to the national grid.

In his remarks at the commissioning of the US$75 million JCM solar power plant on Tuesday at Kamzimbe Village in Traditional Authority Kalonga in Salima Chakwera said reliable sources of energy are critical to the economic development of the country.


He said Malawi needs reliable sources of energy for its national development and that “there are so many partners of goodwill ready to help us develop this sector”.

He also made special mention of some partners such as the United States Government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation who are already helping Malawi develop power sector

“We simply cannot afford to be wasteful of investment offers that come our way. We cannot and must not allow that to happen,” Chakwera said.

He bemoaned the tendency of some public officers whom are frustrating government’s development agenda by putting personal interests first, saying the Salima solar plant was partly delayed due to some bureaucracies by public officers and urged them to be patriotic.

Malaria alert

“One of the issues of concern that this project highlights is that while our governance systems guarantee the security of private investments in this sector, it is clear that our governance systems are too slow.

“For serious developers like JCM Power, with financial support from the Dutch Development Bank and InfraCo Africa Limited, as well as a liquidity guarantee from the African Trade Insurance Agency, Malawi cannot afford to have governance systems that take eight years for a project like this to move from conception to completion.”

Chakwera said he was happy to inaugurate the power plant, as the first of its kind in the country because it is clean energy and a model for green future the country wants.

A solar power plant in Algeria

JCM Power Chief Executive Officer, Christian Wray said his company would remain committed to working with the government of Malawi in the generation of energy.

He said the Golomoti solar plant which was under construction would add 20 megawatts of power to the national grid.

The JCM solar power project was developed in 2013 but started in 2018.

EGENCO and contractor after their agreement

Recently, Electricity Generation Company (EGENCO) signed a construction contract with with Chinese electrical company, CHINT Group, which will be in two phases of 10 megawatts each back to back but the whole project is plans to have a scalable 50MW for the grid.

The other 30MW shall be done after completion of the two phases, whose concept was rolled out in 2017 as soon as the company was formed to be generating power for Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (ESCOM).

At the signing ceremony last month, a representative of CHINT Group, Dennis Chu Liang expressed their commitment to complete the project in time, saying they will hit the ground running for the whole project to be completed in 18 months.

CoVID-19 vaccine alert

The contractor has vast experience in developing solar power systems in Asia, Europe and other African countries such as Egypt, South Africa, Morocco and Ghana — where they have developed power plants totaling 400MW.

Chu Liang also assured of professionalism since they also manufacture most of the materials needed for solar power generation

EGENCO’s Chief Executive Officer, William Liabunya this is part of the company’s drive of not only increasing power generation, but also to diversify its power sources.

“We have to look to the future and ensure that power supply is sustainable to the nation,” he had said. “We are venturing into alternative sources of power such as solar in order to continue improving power generation in the country.”

This solar power plant shall assure EGENCO to supply extra power to ESCOM for it to connect to more customers and thereby generate more economic activities that need electricity.


EGENCO also have a coal powered projected being considered through a feasibility study being carried out at Kammwamba in Balaka District by a German consultant, whom we are expected to receive a report from in November, as disclosed by Liabunya last month.

The Salima plant is being implemented with battery storage and is being funded by EGENCO’s own resources at a total cost of US$17 million, approximately K15 billion.

Also last month, ESCOM was awarded key contracts for the construction of the 218kms transmission interconnector from Matambo substation under the Mozambique–Malawi interconnection project.

Indian contractor, L&T will do the construction works of transmission line and the extension of Phombeya substation in Balaka while Chinese firm, Sinohydro will upgrade works at Matambo substation.

Phombeya substation

Both works to be supervised by Gopa Intec International from Germany, as announced by ESCOM’s Senior Project Manager Alex Kaitane at a press briefing, saying the contractors are now mobilising moving into design phase.

The project, that was initially to have been scheduled to be completed by December 2022, is now targeted for October 2023. The delay is due to CoVID-19 which affected works and organisation when the experts were already doing some preparatory works for the project.

The project is being jointly managed and implemented by a team comprising officers from EDM in Mozambique and ESCOM in Malawi in the Joint Project Implementation Unit.

It is being financed by World Bank, European Union through KfW and the Government of Malawi through ESCOM at a total cost is US$127 million and once completed, it will add 50 megawatts to the country’s power grid.

During President Lazarus Chakwera’s visit to Mozambique in November last year for bilateral talks, his host President Filipe Nyusi had pledged that his government would supply energy to Malawi through the already existing projects using Matambo Substation in Tete and Phombeya.—Additional reporting by Duncan Mlanjira, Maravi Express

Nyusi and Chakwera in Tete Mozambique last year