Malawi and Tanzania have launched the $829 million joint Songwe River Basin Commission in the Tanzanian border town of Keyla.
The Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water development, Joseph Mwanamveka officially launched the commission which will oversee the management of the project together with the Tanzanian Deputy Minister of Water, Jumaah Aweso.
Mwanamvekha said it was pleasing that the project had successfully concluded feasibility studies, detailed design and investment preparation as well as establishment of a Joint Songwe River Commission.
He also added that the launch signifies continued commitment between the two countries to transform the Songwe River Basin.
"The commissioning of the Songwe River Basin is a great milestone in regards to the development of the two countries and their relations.
"This will not only improve our agricultural and the Songwe environment management activities through the dams of irrigation, but it will also drive basin activities including ecosystem management. The dams would be capable of generating 180 megawatts which would benefit the population of the Basin distributed equally between the two countries," Mwananvekha said.
Mwanamvekha then asked the commission to strengthen transboundary cooperation and integrated natural resources management. The Minister said he was hopeful that the launch would speed up construction of the lower Songwe Dam and Hydro Project, construction of several village based schemes, two major irrigation schemes and construction of the Songwe and Kasumulu towns' water supply schemes.
Speaking at the function, Tanzanian Minister of Water, Jumaah Aweso expressed his enthusiasm for the project and highlighted that this signifies a continuing rise in positive relationships between Malawi and Tanzania.
Aweso added that it is the hope of the Tanzanian Government that the project should benefit the two countries' citizens to the fullest and lead to the progressive well being of the people.
"The Tanzanian Government is pleased to enter in this agreement with Malawi. We know that together we can help each other's countries develop and Joint Songwe River Basin Commission is one way of ensuring that," Aweso said.
The Songwe River Basin Commission will ensure sustainable economic development of the basin through crop diversification, power generation, domestic water supply, road network development, aquaculture among others.
The Project is valued at 829 million dollars and the first phase will run for 10 years. It is expected to attract support from several donors including the African Development Bank.
Earlier on, Mwanamveka thanked President Prof. Arthur Peter Mutharika and his Tanzanian counterpart, Dr John Pombe Magufuli for cultivating excellent bilateral relationships between the two countries which had created a condusive environment for such collaboration.