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Deadline approaching: Panel of experts sought for Mpatamanga in Malawi

Expressions of interest are invited by 27 October from qualified experts for the positions of dam specialist, electro-mechanical expert, geologist/geotechnical specialist, hydraulic engineer, environmental specialist, social risk specialist and occupational health and safety specialist, according to tender notices published on the procurement website of the World Bank on 12 October.

The Malawi Government through the Ministry of Energy (MoE) with the support of the World Bank seeks to engage a panel of experts to assist with the development of the 350 MW Mpatamanga hydropower project on the River Shire in the south of the country.

The consulting services include provision of an independent review of the design and construction plan of the dam and recommendations on the required actions to ensure that the safety of the dam and associated facilities comply with acceptable standards as per the World Bank dam safety policy. The environmental and social risk specialists will be required to undertake independent review of the project’s environmental and social instruments and provide technical support to the Government during project preparation and implementation, and throughout the first year of project operation. The assignments are for two years for the planning phase with possibility to continue in the subsequent phases. Detailed terms of reference for the assignments can be obtained from the address below.

The project will be built, owned and operated by a private sector investor(s) under a public private partnership (PPP), with the private concessionaire using IDA credits and guarantees, alongside IFC support, to raise commercial financing from development finance institutions. The project enjoys World Bank support with the proposed IDA financing being used to leverage private capital through IFC’s support. The IFC signed in April 2019 a joint development agreement (JDA) with the Government for the project, with the IFC acting in the capacity of a principal/potential investor. The JDA sets out the main commercial principles and terms that will need to be reflected in the eventual concession, PPA and other project agreements for the project to be ‘bankable’ as a PPP.

The peaking plant, which is to be located around 40 km west of the capital Blantyre, downstream of Lake Malawi, between the existing Tedzani and Kapichira hydropower plants, is designed as a cascade formed by two dams. The main dam is planned to be a 45 m-high CFRD, which will create a 22-km-long reservoir with a capacity of 216 x 106 m3 to serve as daily storage, and two diversion tunnels and penstocks will transport the river water to a surface powerhouse (800 m downstream from the main dam), which is designed for daily peaking operation and will house six Francis turbines totalling 309 MW. A regulating dam with a 41 MW powerhouse is to be built about 6 km downstream of the first powerhouse. The regulating dam, which will temporarily store peak inflows from the main reservoir to be released as flat outflows, will be used to limit downstream impacts.

A 400-kV double-circuit transmission line will connect the plant to the Phombeya substation (some 64 km away) and a second 132 kV transmission line will connect the main dam to the regulating dam.

The proposed Mpatamanga project is a flagship project of the Government of Malawi to contribute to reducing energy shortages and enhancing energy security, and has been designated a priority in the least-cost generation expansion plan prepared under the country’s integrated resource plan. The sizing of Mpatamanga is confirmed as the optimum sizing for the plant, taking levelized economic cost (LEC) as the decisive criterion. A run-of-river operation would provide the same amount of energy, but only 33 per cent would be in peak hours. Lake Malawi, located around 170 km upstream, has a strong regulating effect on the Shire river flows, so there should be limited seasonal variation in output. A feasibility study, ESIA, and preliminary RAP have already been completed with financing from the IDA-funded Energy Sector Project. A technical feasibility study was completed in 2019 including hydraulic modelling and testing of various operation scenarios. The overall project investment amount, financed by the project company, and including preparatory work, development costs, interest during construction and contingencies is currently estimated to US$ 1.07 billion.

Expressions of Interest including detailed curriculum vitae and copies of professional certificates must be delivered in a written form to the address below (in person, by mail, or by email).

For further information contact: Joseph Kalowekamo, Department of Energy Affairs, Private Bag 309, Lilongwe 3; Tel:+265 999 483 260; Email: jkalowek@gmail.com; www.energy.gov.mw.

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