Remarks by Ambassador Palmer on MCC Compact Harvesters Commissioning

April 17, 2018 10:00 am  Liwonde, Malawi

Today, we mark an important milestone in the partnership between the U.S. Government, through the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), and the Government of Malawi. In just about five months, the MCC Compact that we have worked laboriously on together over the past several years will come to an end – and as we begin to celebrate the completion of various compact components – it is fitting that we start here, on the banks of the Shire River.

Reliable electricity helps to drive progress – and in Malawi, where 95 percent of the nation’s electricity is generated by hydropower – we rely on rivers like the Shire to literally power the nation’s growth. The $350 million Millennium Challenge Corporation investment in Malawi has focused on strengthening a foundation on which the country’s power system can grow, including infrastructure and enabling policies that encourage accountability and private sector involvement.

Given the critical importance of hydroelectric power, the compact is funding works to refurbish Nkula A, Malawi’s oldest hydropower plant, just downstream from where we stand this morning. To complement this investment, the Compact, MCA-Malawi, and EGENCO have worked together to address many of the challenges that inhibit the turbines at Nkula A and other hydropower plants from efficiently generating power.

This is where LINTHIPE and RUKURU come in.

These two harvesters, aptly named after two of the Shire’s tributaries, will work to reduce the weeds and debris flowing downriver, which in turn will help reduce blockages at Nkula and greatly improve power generation. Improved generation will translate into more stable and sustainable power for industries, hospitals, schools, the homes of those of us here today and Malawians throughout the country.

Many of you here are recipients of MCA grants and your work on improving land management practices in communities along the Shire River Basin complements the work of LINTHIPE and RUKURU.  MCA-Malawi’s grantee and NGO partners play an important role in not just addressing the challenges posed by debris in the river today, but also in ensuring that the land and resources around the river are managed in a way that mitigates future problems, while creating economic opportunities for Malawians.

LINTHIPE and RUKURU came all the way to Malawi from the state of Wisconsin, in the United States. As the American Ambassador, it is always a pleasure to see an American company contributing to the broader partnership our country has with Malawi. In fact, MCA has awarded almost ten percent, or approximately $35 million, of the MCC Compact to US firms through competitive procurements. I would like to express my gratitude to Jane Dauffenbach, CEO of Aquarius Systems, and her team for being here today and for contributing their vast experience and expertise in aquatic plant harvesters to this critical effort.

Thank you for bringing LINTHIPE and RUKURU all the way from America to fulfill their crucial mission here on the Shire. Your continued support and collaboration with the people and Government of Malawi, as well as the team from Egenco, will help to sustain the progress we mark here today.

Continuing and sustaining progress is what the MCC investment is all about—from the beginning, the US Government’s investment in the MCC compact with the Government of Malawi has been an investment in the future of Malawi. To strengthen and build on this foundation, to truly sustain progress, more has to be done. So, even as we celebrate progress today, I encourage everyone to remain focused and committed to successful completion of compact projects and reforms.

There is a lot of work to do still: work to complete the infrastructure construction and rehabilitation to modernize the backbone of Malawi’s power network; work to finalize the delivery of a sediment dredge machine for Kapichira; work to lay the foundation for the Shire BEST trust that will continue funding important land management grants to NGOs; work to strengthen a policy framework to carry Malawi’s power sector forward; work to secure agreements with private sector independent power producers to bring new generation into the country; and work to ensure that the cost of electricity and the electricity tariff in Malawi is in line with the cost of providing service, maintaining the power grid, and expanding a more reliable system.

Today’s commissioning of LINTHIPE and RUKURU shows us what we can do in this partnership and the great impact we can have together.

I congratulate all of the MCC Compact partners on this first of many milestones – and encourage everyone to celebrate today, and to use this great energy to continue the push toward a successful compact completion and toward a brighter future for Malawi.