Minister of Energy Launches Sitolo Solar Mini Grid
On December 23, 2019 Minister of Energy, Natural Resources and Mining, Bintony Kutsaira, officially launched the 80KWp Sitolo Solar mini grid in Mchinji. Community Energy Malawi (CEM) is implementing the project with support from GEF, UNDP and Government of Malawi – Department of Energy Affairs.
The mini grid has had huge impact in the area with 150 houses connected so far. It is a new world for Sitolo, one they were expecting from the national grid. But mini grid has proven to be the best way for rural areas like Sitolo have access to clean and affordable energy.
As such the project is currently being expanded to nearby areas of Ndawambe and Molosiyo. When these will be connected, the number of households will be over 1, 000.
“This is a remote area and is almost 14 kilometers away from where the national grid is but today the people here have got power, so this is a clear demonstration of the government’s desire that everybody in Malawi should be connected,” said the Minister.
On his part UNDP Portfolio Manager, Andrew Spezowka, said it is the wish of the agency to see that Malawians have electricity. He further said that this is according to Sustainable Development Goal 7 which is on access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all by 2030.
CEM’s Country Director, Edgar Bayani, agreed with Spezowka on the need to connect Malawians, especially rural areas with electricity.
“Only 2 percent of the rural population in Malawi is connected to the national grid. There is need for us to combine our efforts and make sure we deliver on this,” he said.
Apart from domestic use, the Sitolo solar mini grid is also powering several businesses in the area including a Maize mill. This has turned the fortunes of most people in the area through income generating activities as well as having services within reach.
By; Wonderful Mkhutche
Note: additional reporting by Faith Kadzanja, the Daily Times newspaper of Thursday, December 26, 2019