World Bank funds grid to supply Malawi from 2,040-MW Cahora Bassa

The World Bank approved a US$93 million credit July 17 for construction of a transmission line between Mozambique and Malawi, allowing Mozambique’s 2,040-MW Cahora Bassa to fulfill a power contract with Malawi.

Mozambique’s share of the credit will be US$45 million and involves installation of a 135-kilometer, 220-kilovolt power line from the Matambo substation to Phombeya in Malawi. On the Malawi side, about 75 kilometers of 220-kilovolt transmission line will be built and a new 220-kilovolt substation installed at Phombeya.

Utility Electricidade de Mozambique last month completed taking applications for pre-qualification to build a transmission line and substation to carry 300 MW to consumers in Malawi. (HNN 5/21/07) In December, Mozambique hydro operator Hidroelectrica de Cahora Bassa won an international power supply solicitation by Electricity Supply Commission of Malawi. Cahora Bassa, on the Zambezi River, is to supply 100 to 200 MW by 2009, with the amount later increasing to 300 MW.

Like elsewhere in Africa, both countries have been plagued by chronic electricity shortages and the project is another step in the development of a southern African power grid.

“The interconnection will allow Malawi to reap the full benefits of membership of the Southern African Power Pool, both to import electricity when necessary, particularly if there’s a drought, and also to export any surplus electricity Malawi doesn’t use at night-time,” said Wendy Hughes, World Bank senior energy specialist and project leader.

The Mozambique-Malawi interconnector project will ensure much-needed diversification in Malawi’s electricity supply and allow the export of any off-peak power surpluses. It will also provide Mozambique’s energy sector with a new revenue source, the bank added.

Mozambique plans to spend US$382 million during the next three years to upgrade its electricity system, with an eye to expanding the 2,040-MW Cahora Bassa project. (HNN 6/26/07)

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