Malawi to buy hydropower from 2,040-MW Cahora Bassa

Malawi’s national utility plans to buy 300 MW from Mozambique’s 2,040-MW Cahora Bassa hydroelectric project, Mozambique’s energy minister said.

Hydro operator Hidroelectrica de Cahora Bassa (HCB) won an international power supply solicitation by Electricity Supply Corp. of Malawi (Escom), Minister Salvador Namburete said December 28.

Cahora Bassa, on the Zambezi River in northwestern Tete Province, is to supply 100 to 200 MW by 2009, with the amount later increasing to 300 MW.

“Negotiations are in process to seal contract details and in 2007 we hope to have everything ready,” Namburete said.

Tendering seen for transmission, substations

Namburete said an international tender would be launched to select a company to build substations and install the transmission pylons for an initial budget of US$80 million. Officials estimated the transaction would require up to 400 kilometers of transmission lines and substations in Mozambique.

“We want construction to be done in record time and in 2007 everything is set to roll out,” he said.

A consultant studying the Southern Africa Power Pool region recently proposed that the United States support projects to improve transmission and distribution in Angola and Mozambique, with related work involving hydropower. (HNN 11/24/06)

In November, Principal Secretary Grain Malunga of Malawi’s Ministry of Irrigation and Water Development cited Zambezi projects such as Cahora Bassa as potential solutions to the region’s water and power problems. (HNN 12/6/06)

HCB, which is partly owned by the Mozambique government, currently supplies power to South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe. In October, Portugal and Mozambique finally completed an agreement to transfer majority ownership of Cahora Bassa Dam from Portugal to Mozambique, its former colony. (HNN 10/30/06)

Portugal, which holds 82 percent of HCB is to transfer all but 15 percent of the project to Mozambique, giving the African government 85 percent ownership. In return, Mozambique is to pay Portugal US$250 million and pledged to pay an additional US$700 million. Portugal is to forgive any additional debts.

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