Malawi is one of the least electrified countries in the world. Only 18% of Malawi’s 18.14 million inhabitants have access to electricity (11.4% provided by the grid network; 6.6% provided through off-grid energy solutions).
This was a hybrid event, and we were joined by our international colleagues at Mzuzu University: Christopher Bill Hara and Maxon Chitawo and also project managers from community energy projects in Malawi: Lojenzo Bingalason from the CARD project in Nsjanja and Arnold Kadziponye from the MEGA project in Bondo.
The event began with an introduction to the CESET project, followed by the film screening, which you can access here: https://vimeo.com/seanlovell/ceset.
A Q&A session followed, and questions included:
Partners provided a rich overview about their projects. Respondents explained that Malawi is a pioneer in community energy and is rich with examples of solar, hydro and wind projects. Projects are initiated locally on the ground and then grown over time as they gain community interest. The MEGA and CARD projects have kept tariffs the same, without an increase to their customers, for many years and offer different tariff levels – social, domestic and business. The issue is often that the connection materials, i.e. poles and twin wires are too expensive. It is also important to provide a good service so people are more willing to connect and pay. At the moment, whilst the MEGA and CARD projects are running well, they do need to secure more customers to meet their business plan targets, break even, and become self-sufficient. External funding is, therefore, still needed to support equipment, connection, operational costs and maintenance of the grids. Malawi already has a regulatory framework that supports community energy, and the Malawian Government values the projects and provides financial support for set-up costs. Mzuzu University also supports community energy and provides training on renewable energy training and the design and surveying of mini-grids.
Members of the CESET team returned to Malawi in September to undertake more detailed visits to these community energy projects and to see how they could support them further. For more info, see: