The Mpatamanga project is a 350MW run-of-the-river hydroelectric power plant under development in the Blantyre district of Malawi.

It is being developed through a public-private partnership (PPP) in which Electricity Generation Company Malawi (EGENCO) will hold a 30% share on behalf of the Government of Malawi (GoM) and the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) will have a 30% stake, while another strategic partner will hold the remaining 40% stake.

The total investment on the project is estimated to be approximately £650m ($850m).

The Government of Malawi and International Finance Corporation (IFC) InfraVentures signed a joint development agreement (JDA) for the Mpatamanga project in April 2019.

While the construction works are likely to be started by the end of 2021, the commissioning of the hydroelectric power plant is expected in 2025.

The Mpatamanga project is designed to be operated as a peaking plant consisting of the main dam for high power demand and a regulating dam for generating additional baseload capacity.

Location and site details

The Mpatamanga hydroelectric power project is located approximately 50km west of Blantyre, in the southern region of Malawi.

The project site lies at Mpatamanga Gorge on the Shire River, downstream of Malawi Lake, between two existing hydropower plants, namely Tedzani and Kapichira.

Mpatamanga hydroelectric power project make-up

The Mpatamanga hydroelectric power project will comprise two cascade dams for a total power output of 350MW.

The main dam will be a 45m-high concrete face rockfill dam (CFRD) with an adjacent gated spillway at the right abutment. It will create a 22km-long reservoir occupying a 19km2 surface area with a water storage capacity of up to 216 million cubic metres (mcm).

It will involve the construction of two diversion tunnels and a high-pressure penstock to transfer the Shire River water to the ground powerhouse located approximately 800m downstream of the main dam. The powerhouse will be equipped with six Francis turbines for a total power capacity of 309MW.

The project will also have a regulating dam located 6km downstream of the main dam, along with another powerhouse of 41MW installed capacity. The addition of a regulating dam will allow storing the peak inflows from the main reservoir.

A 132kV double circuit power transmission line will be constructed to connect the main dam with the regulating dam.

Power evacuation

The electricity generated from the Mpatamanga hydropower plant will be evacuated through a double circuit 400kV power transmission line.

Running for approximately 64km, the power line will be connected to the existing Phombeya electrical substation.

Contractors involved

UK-based global engineering, management, and development consultancy firm Mott MacDonald, Malawi-based  C12 Consultants, and France-based biodiversity and ecosystem consultancy Biotope were engaged to carry out the environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA) for the project. C12 is also responsible to carry out the biodiversity action plan (BAP) and the relocation action plan (RAP).

Multiconsult Group was engaged in assessing different peaking operations along with the cumulative impacts of other existing and planned projects in 2018.

Fichtner Germany prepared the feasibility report for the hydroelectric power project in 2018.

K and M Advisors was engaged by IFC InfraVentures to facilitate the procurement process for the selection of a strategic sponsor to build, own, and operate the power plant.

Trinity International was engaged to provide legal advisory services to IFC for the Mpatamanga power project.

CrossBoundary Energy has been selected as the government’s transaction advisor for the activities of the project.