Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (MERA) is developing a regulatory framework for mini grid sto provide guidelines for the generation and distribution of electricity that is supplied off the national grid.
The energy regulatory body has taken the step to conform to government’s agenda ofincreasingaccess to electricityby its people from five per cent to 10.7 per cent.
Speaking during the opening of the first planned consultative workshop at Sun Bird Lilongwe Hotel on Wednesday, MERA’s Chief Executive Officer Dr. Collins Magalasi observed that some rural populations and areas have connected themselves to electricity off the national grid.
While acknowledging that such mini grids help to increase people’s access to power, Magalasi said the type of electricity supplied may lack good quality and safety.
He said MERAthought it important to develop a framework for provision of quality and safe electricity.
“Without regulating generation of mini-grids, people will be getting poor quality and unsafe electricity,” Magalasi said on the sidelines of the workshop.
He added that the workshop would help to solicitideas on how best to guide the operations of mini grid in the generation and supplying of safe and quality electricity.
Currently, there are a number of individuals and private development partners that generate and distribute electricity off the national grid but the process is not regulated because there is no guiding framework.
According to Magalasi, the situation leaves a gap and an opportunity for the supply of electricity which isunsafe and of undesired quality.
Once completed, the mini grid framework is expected to provide a process of soliciting mini grid developers as well as requirements for approving their projects.
The framework would also provide terms and conditions for registering or licensing mini grid developers based on whether they are generating electricity for commercial or private users, according to MERA’s Director of Electricity and Renewable Energy, Welton Saiwa.
“We are coming up with this framework because of poor quality production of electricity and installation. The guidelines will also assist in monitoring and enforcing quality assurance of the of mini grids,” Saiwa said.
Malawi is said to have potential for mini grids but presently very few are operational across the country due to challenges such as lack of financiers, policy challenges, regulation challenges and lack of technical expertise to develop, operate and maintain the systems.
According to Principal Energy Officer in Ministry of Natural Resources and Mining Thokozani Malunga, it is because such challenges that government wants to enhance the mini grids sector and promote rural development and livelihood.
“Government’s target is to have 50 mini grids by 2025,” Malungatold the participants during his presentation on Energy Policy.
Some of the participants at the workshop included officials from ministries of Health, Education, Energy Affairs and parastatals and institutions of higher learning.
Similar workshops are scheduled to take place Mzuzu and BlantyreFollow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :