Energy Minister, Newton Kambala on Thursday commissioned the construction of a 21 megawatts solar power plant valued at $40 million (K3.1 billion) in Nkhotakota.
The plant would be constructed by an independent power producer, Phanes Group.
The plant, which will be on a 60-hectare land, will have 60,000 solar panels and is expected to be functional by the end of this year.
Speaking when commissioning the plant, Kambala said Malawi, which has been relying on hydropower for a long time, has a gap in power supply.
He said that government has revised the National Energy Policy to allow independent power producers come in and end monopoly of power supply by the Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom).
Kambala commended Phanes Group for the project which, he said, would help supply power at a time the country’s industrialisation is expanding.
“Considering the levels of shortage of power in Malawi, especially from the generation point, 21 megawatts is very significant and it will definitely increase access to energy and contribute to the growing economy in Malawi,” Kambala said.
He then condemned vandalism of electricity equipment in the country including copper wires that lead to the blowing off of transformers.
Kambala said vandalism of electricity equipment has an impact on Escom operation costs which eventually are pushed to consumers.
Nkhotakota District Commissioner Ben Tonho rated the project as timely, saying it would help towards growth of the district.
Phanes is working in partnership with respons Ability Renewable Energy Holding (rAREH) which is an independent power producer, constructing and operating renewable energy projects in sub- Saharan Africa.
In an interview, rAREH Investment Director Wilfred van den Bos said the plant would produce energy sufficient to supply electricity to 200, 000 households.
The solar plant is expected to be ready by the end of this year.
Currently, Malawi has capacity to produce 400 Megawa of electricity.
Mathews Kasanda is a journalist who holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from University of Malawi (The Polytechnic).
In 2015, Media Institute of Southern Africa awarded him the Best Print Media Education Journalist of the Year accolade.
He joined Times Group Newsroom in September 2019.