ESCOM launches fruit tree planting exercise in Neno along Mozambique-Malawi power interconnection stretch

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ESCOM launches fruit tree planting exercise in Neno along Mozambique-Malawi power interconnection stretch
ESCOM launches fruit tree planting exercise in Neno along Mozambique-Malawi power interconnection stretch

Africa-Press – Malawi. Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (ESCOM) has launched a massive replacement of trees cut down along the stretch of the Mozambique-Malawi (MO-MA power interconnector project by supplying fruit trees for the communities of Mwanza, Neno and Balaka districts.

The launch was held at Naminjale Primary School in Neno and ESCOM’s Chief Operations Officer (COO), Maxwell Mulimakwenda announced that they will distribute over 42,950 fruit tree seedlings of mangoes, guavas, lemons, oranges, avocado pears and others for the communities to harvest and sell for their economic livelihood.

As part of its corporate social responsibility (CSR), the MO-MA project contractor has also contributed an extra 32,000 seedlings and for every homestead that had their trees cut — even though they were already compensated for — shall be provided with 10 fruit tree seedlings while Naminjale Primary School itself was provided with 200.

He said their initiative is in line with the launch of the national Forestry Season by President Lazarus Chakwera in Phalombe on January 18, saying they decided to take an extra mile by providing fruits tree seedlings.

Just as other speakers at the launch — that included acting senior manager-MO-MA, Leonard Machonjo, the area’s Senior Traditional Authority (T/A) Likongwe; Group Village Headman Ngwenyama; the area’s Headman Msonthi and Neno District Council Director of planning & development, Charles Lomoni — the learners at Naminjale were encouraged to have in mind the conservation of the environment.

The beauty part of the school grounds is that it has a very impressive forest cover, also has a borehole at the area and the young minds were encouraged to own the trees planted by making sure they are watered daily when the soil is dry until the seedlings reach sapling level.

The guests and the traditional leaders led the enthusiastic learners to the planting exercise of the 200 tree seedlings after the speeches in which they were enlightened that the Cyclones that have wreaked destruction in the past few years — Idai, Ana, Gombe and Freddy — were all to do with climate change following the degradation of the environment through wanton cutting down of trees for charcoal production.

Naminjale’s headteacher, Joseph Kapasule profoundly thanked ESCOM for considering his school to launch the initiative, saying over the years they made sure trees are replaced around the institution but they face challenges in that people still come and steal the trees.

“My students are well aware of the need to conserve the environment and are excited that they are planting fruit trees this time around,” he said. “We will continue to encourage them to take care of the trees until they are fully grown.

“The needs of our school are many but once the fruits will be ready for harvesting, we will make sure we find good markets in order to earn some funds for the school’s self sustenance.”

On the MO-MA, Machonjo appraised the gathering that the project — funded by the World Bank, Germany’s KFW and the Malawi Government — is at 48% completion stage, whose stretch is 218kms long from Matambo in Tete, Mozambique to Mwanza border and 76kms to Phombeya in Balaka District.

While COO Mulimakwenda added that the power line will first supply 120 megawatts of power but has capacity to carry the combined power supplied by Nkula A & B, Tedzani and Kapichira Hydro Power Stations.

He urged the communities to own the infrastructure that has been invested by desisting from vandalising it as is common of most of ESCOM’s equipment and power lines.

“This is not ESCOM’s infrastructure — it belongs to you as well and to the rest of the nation,” he said. “We shall make sure that the communities through which the power line has passed, should benefit by being installed with electricity — starting with Naminjale Primary School here.”

The MO-MA Interconector Project was launched by President Lazarus Chakwera and his Mozambique counterpart, Filipe Jacinto Nyusi at Phombeya in November 2021.

The objectives of the interconnection project include to contribute economic growth of the region through sustainable power access by integrating Malawi electricity market to the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) in order to balance power deficit through regional power trading.

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