The impact of COVID-19 on Malawi’s energy sector

25th November, 2021

Our CESET co-investigators Collen Zalengera and Long Seng To and their colleagues have recently published an open access article “Unbending the Winding Path of a Low-Income Country’s Energy Sector amid the COVID-19 Pandemic: Perspectives from Malawi” in Energies. This paper discusses the impact of COVID-19’s vulnerability context on Malawi’s Energy Sector and outlines mechanisms for enhancing Malawi’s energy-sector resilience based on experiences from a range of stakeholders. The investigation was conducted online by inviting purposively selected stakeholders to create presentations responding to thematic questions. Stakeholders included policy-makers, regulatory bodies, national grid supply players, off-grid players, development agencies, bankers, professional bodies, civil society, and women’s rights bodies. The presentations from the stakeholders highlighted how COVID-19 affects the operation costs of energy systems and implementation of energy systems projects in areas that require stimulus packages to contain energy system delivery costs and prevent disruption of essential services amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The paper finally makes recommendations on how Malawi and similar low-income countries can strategise to enhance energy systems resilience: 

  • Commence energy scenario planning for 5 or 10 years, including other hazards such as drought, and suggest solutions in advance.
  • Ministries need to work together to support local companies manufacturing essential electrical supplies to ensure an uninterrupted supply chain.
  • Implementation of local skills development programmes for the energy sector
  • Enforcement of strict compliance with customer complaint resolutions for electronic payments.
  • The government should construct more fuel reserves.
  • Policy-makers must devise recovery measures that are forward-and-outward.

These recommendations are extremely useful for the CESET project as we begin to think through how we can ensure our mini-grid lab in location in Mozambique can plan for its future sustainability and longevity in energy provision to the community for which it will serve.


Image credit: "Cuban Health Specialists arriving in South Africa to curb the spread of COVID-19" by GovernmentZA is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0