POWER MARKET LIMITED ENGAGES MPs ON 21 MW NKHOTAKOTA SOLAR PV PLANT
Power Market Limited (PML), which was established to undertake the functions of a Single Buyer, on Monday, December 13th, 2021, engaged Members of Parliament (MPs), more particularly the Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources and Climate Change (NRCC), on the progress of the construction of the 21 Megawatts Serengeti Nkhotakota Solar PV Power Plant.
The visit comes barely a few days after the State Vice President, Dr Saulos Klaus Chilima paid a visit to the site and said that he was impressed with the construction works at the site after touring it.
Dr Chilima said that for Malawi's aspirations to be achieved, there is a need for sufficient energy for sustainable economic infrastructure; hence the construction of the 21 MW Serengeti Nkhotakota Solar Power Plant is in line with the aspirations, pillars and enablers of the country's development Agenda (MW2063) of creating an inclusive wealthy and self-reliant nation.
The Nkhotakota Solar PV Power Plant is part of the Malawi government's plan to move the country away from its reliance on Hydropower which represents over 90 per cent of its energy mix. In addition, the coming in of PML has enhanced the participation of IPPs in the Malawi power sector and increased generation by 20%. Furthermore, PML is mandated to buy and sell all-electric power, which is beneficial for the power sector by reducing inefficiencies.
Its plan is to include other green technologies such as wind, gas and geothermal. The Single Buyer is crucial in the new power structure in Malawi as it will ensure timely payments to the IPP's and give confidence to other potential IPPs who are willing to invest in Malawi. The launch of the JCM 60MW Solar Power Plant in Salima inaugurated by His Excellency Dr Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera on November 16th, 2021, is a clear manifestation and fruits of reforms championed by the Malawi government.
Speaking during the visit, Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources and Climate Change (NRCC) Honorable Welani Chilenga, a member of Parliament from Chitipa South, said they were impressed with what they have seen as a committee commended PML for a job well done. Chilenga said that PML is working in line with government policies and walking the talk with what they have seen.
"This is one of the projects that will make the way forward as come generation capacity is very low and government's vision of producing 1000MW to be added to the grid within four years, PML's role will be crucial in achieving this by attracting investment in the power sector with various technologies and contracting the IPPs through power purchase agreement," Chilenga said.
Commenting on the visit, one of the Members of Parliament who was part of the team Auzious John Chidobvu of Dedza North West Constituency, thanked PML for involving them. He said that's what lacks most government institutions when implementing different projects in the country.
"It will be easy for us Members of Parliament to make proper laws on such kind of projects because we have seen what is on the ground rather than just doing it without looking at what is needed," Chidobvu said.
In his remarks, a senior developer Victor Mallet applauded PML for bringing the MPs to the site, lamenting that lack of engagement with the lawmakers makes their job difficult. "It was good to see them here so that they appreciate the results of what they approved in Parliament not theoretically but being on the ground," Mallet said.
Speaking on behalf of the Ministry of Energy, Spokesperson Upile Kamoto said that the engagement was of great importance to them. It was an eye-opener on some of the challenges during the project development phase.
"As government we will make sure that all the concerns that were addressed by the MPs are fully looked into for the betterment of different developmental projects in our country," Kamoto said.
The project is being implemented in Senior Malengachazi in Nkhotakota Central Constituency, and nine villages were affected after the project's approval. Still, so far, the 21 MW Solar Power Plant has created 200 jobs during construction and will create over 20 jobs during its operation.
Once completed in the second quarter of 2022 the solar PV plant will produce 57 million KW of power, sufficient to supply 400,000 people in Malawi with electricity. The project is one of the interventions that will contribute to the government's ambition of developing 1000MW of power by 2025.
With the JCM Solar project commissioned last month being the first of its kind in the diversification of technologies across the country, PML looks to be on track in achieving more as the Nkhotakota Solar Power Plant has taken the right direction towards completion as well.
Social programs have taken centre stage so far to the affected families with Livelihood Restoration Plan and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) with 80 youths from the areas being trained in vocational training. The Serengeti Nkhotakota Solar PV project provides farm inputs to the displaced and monthly food basket initiative for three years comprising of two bags of maize, 10 kgs of rice, milk, cooking oil and groundnuts. In addition, the surrounding communities were trained in financial management skills to use the compensation funds appropriately.
The members of parliament recommended more CSR activities that are long term, sustainable and impactful so that the communities and Nkhotakota project benefits from the project.