Malawian NGO Community Energy Malawi (CEM), in conjunction with Scottish NGO, in partnership with Community Energy Scotland (CES) with funding from The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) at 250,000 US dollars, will install a 45 kilowatt solar PV mini grid to supply electricity to, at least, 100 customers for domestic houses, one Under-5 clinic, a school, a church and six street lights in remote villages of Mchinji District.
Named Sitolo Mini Grid Project after the name of one of the villages, will also utilise the power to be generated for other business activities such as maize milling, metal fabrication services, water pumping for domestic and for irrigation, milk cooling and other enterprises such as barbershops, phone charging, entertainment and refrigeration.
According to CEM Country Director Edgar Kapiza Bayani, this is part of the decentralised energy initiatives in line with Sustainable Energy For All and government of Malawi’s goals of increasing access to clean energy in Malawi.
“Our target is to provide electricity to all 250 households in Sitolo Village as well extend supply to three neighbouring villages of Molosiyo, Ndawambe and Faifi in TA Mlonyweni’s area, Mchinji,” Bayani said.
“Therefore, we have two more stages in the pipeline in which we are talking with some funders for a possible funding to scale this project next year. Our discussions with IEEE/Smart Village Programme are at an advanced level and we hope to get the extra funding soon to scale up the system.
“Our goal is to provide electricity to meet energy needs both for household and entrepreneurship. To that effect we are promoting productive use of energy activities which include trainings using a Toolkit on how people can utilise energy productively to enhance their economic potential.”
He said CEM is planning to liaise with Heifer International to provide milk cooling facilities for farmers once that energy will be available.
“We are also pleased that some entrepreneurs have shown interest to operate maize milling and metal fabrication services in the village,” Bayani said.
“We are, therefore, guiding them on what equipment they can procure to be in tandem with the installed capacity.
“In the project, we have also partnered with Mzuzu University’s Department of Energy Studies, who worked with us in technical assessments.”
Sitolo Community is composed of four villages, namely Sitolo, Chisenga, Molosiyo and Ndawambe. It has 833 households with a population of 5,223 people. It is located 18km from Mchinji Boma and 12km from the national grid.
According to CEM, the location is not even on Malawi Rural Electrification Programme (MAREP) and was identified following Productive Use of Energy (PUE) and Market Assessment studies.
“The villages are in a nuclear settlement with brick and iron roofed houses. Their primary economic activity is agriculture that includes; rain-fed and irrigated farming of Irish potatoes, legumes, onions and maize as well as dairy farming.
“There is no maize mill in this area such that women travel 18km to Mchinji Boma or 19km to Magwero in neighbouring Zambia just to get their maize grinded.
“The milk bulking groups do not have cooling facilities, a situation that results in the milk going sour. With electricity in the area, the milk bulking groups would be able to store, cool as well as process the milk while the women will reduce time spent on grinding maize and do other productive activities.
“Access to potable water will also increase as well as crop production through irrigation.”
The UNDP project is a 250,000 US dollars funding for three years. CEM is is an NGO incorporated under the laws of Malawi and the solar project has already being approved and certified by Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (Mera).Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :