Malawi, Tanzania sign $500 million power generation deal

Malawi and Tanzania have signed a $500 million irrigation and power generation deal, Our Correspondent reports

KARONGA, Malawi – Forget about their row over Lake Malawi boundary, African neigbouring nations of Tanzania and Malawi have signed an agreement to implement a joint 180-megawatt electricity project.

The project is being implemented at the time when energy supply has become a growing concern in Malawi.

Erratic power outages continue to haunt Malawi which depends on hydro electric power stations to generate electricity from Shire River, the outlet of Lake Malawi.

With future economic growth crucially depends on the long term availability of energy from sources that are affordable, accessible, and environmentally friendly, Malawi has been hunting for alternative power sources.

The deal with Tanzania is one of the several options Malawi has resorted to.

Tanzania’s Daily News reported this week that the two countries also expect to implement another joint project on irrigation where a total of 600 hectares will be developed, with 3000 farms in each country.

The implementation of the projects follow agreement over development for Songwe River Basin (SRBDP), signed by the Minister for Water and Irrigation, Engineer Gerson Lwenge and Malawian Minister for Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Dr George Chaponda.

The two officials signed the agreement in Mbeya during a special ministerial meeting.

In Malawi, the project will be implemented in the two districts of Chitipa and Karonga.

“This project will benefit our people in so many ways since we are expecting to produce 180 megawatt of electricity, which will be shared equally between the two countries,” the paper quoted Lwenge.

He said irrigation project would result in the development of a total of 3,000 farms in both countries.

According to Dr Chaponda when the project is completed, it will help in strengthening relationship between the two countries and expand business.

The project will cost the two countries over US$ 500 million.

Bilateral relations

Malawi and Tanzania enjoy warm ties except on the issue of the boundary between the two nations along Lake Malawi.

Malawi’s first president, Hastings Kamuzu Banda, was the first to claim that the lake was part of the southern African nation. He based his claim on the 1890 Heligoland Agreement between Britain and Germany, which stipulated that the border between the countries lay along the Tanzanian side of the lake.

The colonial treaty was reaffirmed at the 1963 Organisation of African Unity Summit in Ethiopia and was reluctantly accepted by Tanzania.

Tanzania’s position is that the treaty was flawed. Tanzania has remained resolute that it owns half of the lake – saying that the border runs through the middle of the lake excluding the section that lies in Mozambique.

Tanzania’s position is that a partition drawn in the middle of the lake, stressing that this is the practice among countries which share water bodies.

According to Tanzania, the treaty was flawed because it denied its citizens living on the shores of the lake their given right to utilise proximate water and marine resources to earn their daily living.