Malawi and Tanzania have agreed to work together for the development of the Songwe River Basin Program (SRBDP). This follows the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between both parties at a ceremony held in Lilongwe, on May 18, 2017.
Prepared with the support of the African Water Facility and the NEPAD Infrastructure Project Preparation Facility (IPPF), both hosted by the African Development Bank (AfDB), this program is expected to generate economic, social, environmental, and livelihood benefits for the people of the Songwe Basin. It will also enhance food and energy security and boost economic growth on the borders between the Southern African countries.
This US$ 829 million transboundary program seeks to develop a multipurpose dam, expected to supply up to 180 megawatts of hydro power. It will also provide water for an irrigation scheme covering about 3,000 hectares in each of the countries and control floods in the densely populated lower part of the basin.
Two small towns with a population of roughly 86,000 inhabitants and some 36 neighboring villages will be provided with water through this program. Other components of the program include rural electrification, social infrastructure, and institutional capacity building.
"This integrated and transboundary program is in alignment with the current strategic priorities of the Bank, the High 5s and builds the resilience of local communities to the effects of climate change," says Andrew Mwaba, AfDB's Resident Representative in Malawi.
The development of this program envisages the use of the Public-Private Partnership (PPPs) approach. The IPPF and the African Legal Support Facility, another initiative hosted by the AfDB are currently exploring the funding of an adviser to the project to handle issues related to PPPs.
Many other donors participated at the signing ceremony and donor conference held on May 18, 2017, at the Bingu International Convention Centre (BICC) in Lilongwe. This includes the European Investment Bank, the World Bank Group, and Development Bank of Southern Africa. These donors expressed interest in supporting the project. The Private companies in attendance also indicated interest, particularly in the dam and the hydropower plant.
Malawi's Minister of Finance, Economic Planning, and Development, Goodall Gondwe joined both the Tanzania Minister of Water and Irrigation, Gerson Hosea Lwenge and Malawi's Minister of Water for the one day conference during which authorities of both countries also signed the Songwe River Basin Convention.