CEM’s Solar Electricity Beneficiaries in Sitolo Visits Mulanje
On Monday, twenty Community Energy Malawi’s (CEM) solar electricity beneficiaries in Sitolo, Mchinji, visited Malawi Energy Generation Agency (MEGA) hydropower plant in Bondo, Senior T/A Mabuka, Mulanje. The aim of the visit was to facilitate learning for beneficiaries and appreciate various developments through the hydropower plant.
CEM is implementing an 80 Kilowatt (Kw) solar mini grid in Sitolo which has seen over 600 houses connected to electricity. Besides this, a teacher’s houses, a clinic, a church and various businesses have also been connected. The project is being funded by Government of Malawi through Department of Energy Affairs, UNDP and GEF. In time, it will be expanded to the surrounding areas of Molosio, Chisenga and Ndawambe.
On the other hand, MEGA has harnessed water from Mulanje Mountain rivers to produce over 90 Kw of electricity which has been connected to over 1, 200 houses. Through this, a lot of businesses have mushroomed in the area and they include four Maize mills and grocery shops. Bondo and Sitolo mini grids are among the first in Malawi.
Speaking during the learning journey, CEM’s Energy Development Officer, Memory Suwedi, the two projects are evidence that it is possible for mini grids to provide electricity to areas far from the national grid.
“Sitolo and Bondo are the first mini grids to be commissioned in Malawi. They are both connecting electricity to rural areas, far from the national grid. It was therefore necessary for these to learn from each other,” she said.
One of the visitors, Dorothy Zulu, was filled with excitement on what she too needs to do when she gets back to Sitolo.
“So many inspiring stories from the electricity. We are involved in farming back in Sitolo and I think that is where I will invest myself in,” she said.
On his part, MEGA’s Arnold Kadziponye was thankful to CEM for facilitating the learning journey.
“We are happy when we get visitors. As you have seen, we are doing great things in Bondo through the project. When people come to appreciate our work, it challenges us to do more,” he said.
Malawi faces persistent energy challenges. In addition, only 2 percent of Malawi’s rural population have access to electricity through the national grid. The two mini grids have shown that areas in Malawi can make use of water sources and sunlight to generate electricity for both domestic and commercial uses.
By: Wonderful Mkhutche