I am delighted to be here to celebrate this important milestone in MCC’s compact with Malawi.
The United States and Malawi are longtime partners, and today’s groundbreaking is a strong example of what we can achieve together.
I want to thank His Excellency the President and the Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mines for their leadership and commitment to expanding electricity access and building a prosperous future for the people of Malawi.
I am also grateful for ESCOM and the Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority, which have made an outstanding commitment to reform and improve Malawi’s power sector. They have both been strong partners for MCC over the last three years.
And finally, I would like to express my thanks to the many MCC friends and partners who here today, including:
- Ambassador Palmer
- The Millennium Challenge Account staff,
- And the teams of MCA contractors from Fichtner, SMEC, and Larson & Toubro.
You have been instrumental to this compact, and are helping to make a difference in the lives of hundreds of thousands of Malawians.
Across Africa, more than 600 million people live without access to electricity, and many more live without access to enough electricity.
In Malawi, that means that too many families cannot turn on the lights at night. It means that hospitals and schools must go without power to treat patients or train students. And it means businesses lose out on opportunities to grow and create new jobs.
MCC’s $350 million compact is supporting the government of Malawi’s ambitious efforts to increase access to reliable and affordable electricity.
Working together, we are helping to stabilize and strengthen Malawi’s electricity network. The Nkhoma substation is the first component of a new 400 kilovolt transmission line that will stretch from Blantyre to Lilongwe and have a truly catalytic impact.
This line will move large quantities of electricity from where it is generated in Southern Malawi to central Malawi and eventually to northern Malawi. Along its path, the line will empower communities and unlock economic growth.
The new substations will also create the potential to connect Malawi to power networks in Mozambique and Zambia, fulfilling a dream of regional integration. That means more reliable supply of power for Malawians, and it paves the way for a day when Malawi can even export power to its neighbors.
And finally, this line will build a foundation for future expansion and improvement of Malawi’s power supply. ESCOM will able to deliver better service, and independent power producers will use this line to transmit new electricity to farms, to businesses, and to homes.
This line and other elements of the Compact’s infrastructure project will increase the capacity of Malawi’s grid by some 500 megawatts, enough to more than double the amount of electricity that Malawi produces today.
So today’s ceremony serves as a clear sign that this compact is delivering on its promise and improving the lives of people across the country.
It is the culmination of a lot of hard work. The Compact development process began in 2008, and there have been many twists and turns in the road since then. I sincerely congratulate the Ministry of Energy, ESCOM, MERA and MCA Malawi for their perseverance, which has led us to this day.
Of course, today’s celebration is only the beginning. Much of the challenging work lies ahead, and I encourage them to make the best of the remaining two years of the compact and see the program through to a successful completion.
But it is clear to me that MCC’s compact with Malawi is in good hands. Susan Banda, Felix, and the entire MCA team have done a tremendous job moving this compact forward, and they have had the commitment and support they need from the government of Malawi. I want to recognize Ms. Susan Banda for her outstanding commitment to this program since 2008; Susan we are very sad to be losing you at the end of this month but we wish you the very best.
Now, as you know, President Barack Obama has made a strong commitment to help African countries increase electricity access across the continent.
In his words, electricity is the “connection that is needed to plug Africa into the grid of the global economy.” And I am proud that the compact with Malawi is leading the way forward and serving as a model for Power Africa projects across the continent.
I look forward to seeing what more we can accomplish together in the years to come.