Kazimbe Village, Traditional Authority Kalonga, Salima District, Malawi: His Excellency Prof. Arthur Peter Mutharika, President of the Republic of Malawi, presided over a ground-breaking ceremony on Monday to mark the start of construction of the 60MWAC Salima Solar project.
Salima Solar is being co-developed by InfraCo Africa, part of the Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG), and JCM Power. It is the first Independent Power Producer (IPP) of its kind in Malawi.
In his speech to an audience of Government ministers and invited guests, His Excellency said: “The time has come to address our power problem, now and for future generations … I want to say farewell to blackouts.” He described the challenges facing Malawi’s energy sector: historic underinvestment, the impact of changing climate on hydro power output and an imbalance between supply and demand. His Excellency concluded that: “The Salima Solar power project is taking a leading role in power generation,” before calling on the private sector to continue investing into Malawi’s power sector.
His Excellency and Madame Prof. Gertrude Mutharika, First Lady of the Republic of Malawi, were welcomed to the Salima Solar site by Hon. Aggrey Masi M.P., Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining and by members of the project team including Justin Woodward, Co-Founder of JCM Power. Following a briefing about the project, His Excellency unveiled a plaque and signed the guest book. The event concluded with local dance performances and a fanfare played by the Malawi Defence Force Brass Band.
Hon. Aggrey Masi M.P., Malawi’s Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, said: “The current administration has worked hard to ensure that Malawi’s energy problems can be a story of the past. The Salima Solar project is very important. It is the first solar IPP to reach construction and will address some of the challenges the power sector is facing.” He also expressed his view that the project will demonstrate the potential of the country’s solar resource to other private investors.
JCM’s Phylip Leferink acknowledged the collective efforts of the President, government ministers, ESCOM and local communities. He also recognised the continued support of PIDG, InfraCo Africa and its funders in progressing the project to construction. “We will now work to prepare the ground, ready to install 230,000 solar panels after the rainy season and anticipate that Salima Solar will be delivering power to the grid by the end of 2019,” he said.
“I am delighted to be here with our partners to witness the ground-breaking ceremony for Salima Solar, an event which marks the culmination of significant work by all parties. The project will pioneer private sector delivered solar and increase access to clean, reliable electricity which is essential for economic growth.” Justin Woodward, Co-Founder JCM Power
Elizabeth Hipwell of InfraCo Africa said: “The Government of Malawi’s ongoing commitment to Salima has enabled us to start constructing this pioneering solar project. As His Excellency Prof. Mutharika has noted, further private investment into renewable power generation in Malawi will help to secure the country’s energy future. We are delighted to have played a pathfinding role in demonstrating the potential of solar for future investment in the market.”
InfraCo Africa and JCM Power are already building on their partnership to develop Salima Solar’s sister project, Golomoti Solar, in the south-east of the country. Together, the two projects will increase Malawi’s installed power generation capacity by over 80MW by 2020.