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Mozambique and Malawi strengthen economic ties

The Malawi-Mozambique Interconnector, which is expected to add 1,000 megawatts to the national grid over the next four years, is making steady progress, writes Kester Kenn Klomegah

MOZAMBIQUE and Malawi, largely sharing borders, have agreed to forge cooperation in diverse economic sectors and take advantage of the single continental market.

A number of African leaders have started looking at the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), as it aspires to connect all regions of Africa, to deepen economic integration and to boost intra-African trade and investment.

It aims to create a single market for goods and services across 55 countries on the continent, creating a market of as much as 1.3 billion people with a combined GDP of $3.4 trillion.

Earlier last week, President Filipe Jacinto Nyusi of Mozambique was in Malawi to take part in the 5th Southern African Development Community (SADC) Industrialisation Week in Lilongwe.

The first strategy for regional industrialisation, Nyusi noted, included developing synergies linked to value chains, transport corridors, energy, and human potential.

It would also involve bringing down barriers at the border to strengthen the economic identity of SADC.

According to Nyusi, the impact of this strategy will be amplified through changes to the trade balance as exports are increased and imports substituted.

The second strategy is based on developing technology, employing thousands of people, creating a market to absorb agricultural surpluses from the rural population with a particular focus on women, agro-processing and associated logistics, which, Nyusi said, ended up becoming a “powerful weapon” for the well-being of the population and combating poverty.

During the visit, the Malawian President, Lazarus Chakwera, took Nyusi to launch the construction of the Mozambique-Malawi power transmission interconnection project at Phombeya in Balaka District.

The power generated is expected to improve access to electricity supply and ultimately strengthen the industrialisation programmes in both countries.

The project includes laying transmission lines about 142km from Matambo substation and 76km into Malawi to Phombeya, passing through Mwanza and Neno Districts.

It is expected to be completed in 2023.

According to the Integrated Resource Plan of 2017, peak electricity demand will be 1,860MW by 2030, yet currently Malawi’s installed electricity generation capacity is hovering at 50MW.

The interconnection project will support economic growth in the region through sustainable power access by integrating Malawi’s electricity market to the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) that will aid regional power trading.

Phase 1 of the project included technical and economic feasibility study that was completed in 2017, project definition and scope and environmental and social impact assessment that finished in 2019.

Chakwera said like the railway rehabilitation project that the two countries had embarked on to connect Malawi to the Sena Line across the border from Vila Nova de Fronteira to Marka, ‘this interconnection project is yet another milestone in the linkages between our two nations’.

Last year, during a visit to Songo Province in Mozambique, Chakwera toured the Cabora Bassa Dam which is the hub of the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP).

‘It was at that time that we agreed to hold this joint ceremony launching the construction of the electricity transmission line for Malawi-Mozambique Interconnection,’ Chakwera said.

‘I am, therefore, glad to see this coming to pass as a step in the direction of integrating infrastructure across SADC for sustainable economic development.

‘The project aims at creating avenues for trade in the SAPP, with the prospect of more exchanges of trade and power in the future,’ the Mozambican leader added.

Chakwera said Malawi and Mozambique were strategic development partners and there was a need for the two counties to continue exploring possible areas of cooperation in trade, transport and mining for the mutual benefit of their people.

Both presidents also identified areas of rail transport, energy and mining for developing bilateral partnership.

The Malawi-Mozambique Interconnector, which is expected to add 1,000 megawatts to the national grid over the next four years, is making steady progress.

The project is co-funded by a World Bank-IDA Credit of $15 million; the European Union through a grant of $20 million, and the Malawian government, which has provided $3.5 million.

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