ESCOM announces commencement of Malawi-Mozambique interconnection project

The power supply plant at Phombeya substation

By Yamikani Yapuwa, MANA

Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (ESCOM) has awarded key contracts for the construction of the 218kms transmission interconnector from Matambo substation under the Mozambique–Malawi interconnection project.

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Announcing this at a press briefing in Blantyre on Tuesday, ESCOM’s Senior Project Manager Alex Kaitane said an 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 — both works to be supervised by Gopa Intec International from Germany.

“These [contracts] have just been awarded in the past month,” Kaitane said. “The contractors are now busy mobilising moving into design phase and then we shall proceed into the rest of the project.”

Generating plant at Nkula

He added that the project has now been scheduled to be completed by October 2023 and not December 2022 as initially targeted due to CoVID-19 which affected works and organisation when they were already doing some preparatory works for the project.

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

“Before the pandemic we used to meet, discuss, resolve technical issues, and come up with documentation and so on. When CoVID-19 came, that became a bit of a problem as we had to shift to online platforms which was difficult in the beginning but we managed to find a solution along the way hence being where we are now.”


On meeting the completion date, Kaitane said they have impressed upon the contractors and consultant to maximise the utilisation of local workforce, which will always be available.

The project 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.

Nyusi and Chakwera in Mozambique last October

Phombeya substation is situated along the Blantyre-Lilongwe Zalewa road and is one of ESCOM’s very important substation from power generating plant at Nkula in Neno District.

Nyusi also took Chakwera to Cahora Bassa hydro power dam for him to appreciated a Malawi–Mozambique transmission line that is being constructed under the Malawi-Mozambique interconnection project.

Other benefits through Chakwera’s bilateral talks last year with Nyusi include investment by Mozambique of US$30 million to its public-owned ports and railway company (CFM) to carry out rehabilitation works of its rail network that connects with Malawi.

The rehabilitation involves the Dona Ana-Vila Nova da Fronteira railroad network in the central province of Tete, which will re-establish the rail connection with Malawi.

Sena railway corridor that connects Malawi

According to that country’s media reports last year, the branch line is 115 kilometres long of which 44 kilometres are on the Mozambican side between Dona Ana and Vila Nova da Fronteira and the remaining 71 kilometres on the stretch from Vila Nova da Fronteira to Bangula, Nsanje in Malawi.

When operational, the railway will connect Malawi to the central Mozambican port of Beira along the Sena Rail line — which will bring great benefits to the two countries through jobs and related businesses it will create.

The rail connection between the two countries was interrupted in the 1980s at the height of Mozambique’s civil war that destabilised the country.

There is also a new international railway line that transports coal mined at Moatize in Mozambique and passes into Malawi through Mwanza, Balaka, Machinga all the way to the border where trains continue to offload the coal at Nacala, back in Mozambique.—Additional reporting by Duncan Mlanjira

The Moatize to Nacala corridor