Contracting firms have until 9 February to submit prequalification applications to build the Mpatamanga hydroelectric power project (MHPP) on the Shire River in southern Malawi.

The MHPP entails the construction of two cascading generating stations 6 km apart, with a combined capacity of 361MW, along with substations and transmission lines. 

The upper main generating station will house four Francis turbines with a combined capacity of 309MW. The RCC gravity dam will have a crest of 280 meters and will be 50 meters high. The powerhouse for the lower regulating dam will comprise two bulb units with a combined capacity of 52MW, while the RCC gravity dam will have a crest of 350 meters and a height of 35 meters.

The civil works include upgrading 32km of existing roads and 10km of new access roads.

The project is being developed as a public-private partnership, led by a consortium of France’s EDF and Norway’s Scatec (55% combined) alongside the government of Malawi (30%) and the IFC (15%). 

Mpatamanga Hydro Power Limited (MHPL), the special purpose vehicle established to build, own, operate, and then transfer the project after 30 years, has invited applications from engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contractors for initial selection for three packages. 

EPC1 comprises the civils package, EPC2 covers the electromechanical works, while EPC3 covers the transmission lines and substations.

Specifically, the EPC1 civil works package covers the road works, construction of the operator camps, offices, canteen, recreational facilities, site infrastructure, dams, intakes, tunnels, shafts and spillways, powerhouses, penstock, and tailrace. 

EPC2 includes the main inlet valves, the turbines, and generators, the powerhouse equipment including the control room, and the balance of the plant.

EPC3 comprises two new transmission lines, substations, and access roads to the substations. A new 64km, 400kV single circuit transmission line will be built from the main switchyard to the existing Phombeya substation, and an 11.4km, 132kV transmission line will be built to connect the lower dam to an existing transmission line.

MHPL intends to shortlist three to five contractors for each package, ahead of issuing the request for proposals in April/May. The aim is to award the EPC contracts during the first quarter of 2025 and launch the early works including construction of the access roads in the second quarter of 2025. The main works are envisaged to get underway in the fourth quarter of 2025 and the commissioning date for the project has been set for January 2030. 

The basic design for the project is due to be finalized by the end of March. The implementation agreement and the power purchase agreement with state utility Escom are “substantially complete”, according to MHPL. The environmental and social impact assessment and resettlement access plan are due to be finished by mid-2024.

The project will be financed through the World Bank, the IFC, and other development partners as well as commercial debt. The debt-equity ratio is envisaged to be 75:25.

The MHPP will double Malawi’s installed hydropower capacity. It will be built between the existing 121MW Tedzani plant and the 130MW Kapichira facility on the Shire River and will operate as a peaking plant with energy production of 1.470GWh a year.


Mpatamanga project site
Mpatamanga project sites
Source: MHPL

The project will create two reservoirs, a large reservoir of 260 million cubic metres at the main dam and a smaller reservoir of 11 million cubic metres at the regulating dam.

Contractors can apply for one or more packages and will be asked to sign an interface agreement to work with the other EPC firms.

EDF and Scatec were officially appointed as strategic sponsors to lead the development and implementation of the project in September 2022 following a competitive tender process.

Details of the tender can be viewed here

Leave a Comment