Mini-Grids Catalyst For Development – CEM
Community Energy Malawi (CEM), an organization behind the implementation of Sitolo Solar Mini-Gird Project in Mchinji, says solar power is transforming people’s lives economically.
The 80-kilowatts solar power project was officially commissioned last December with a target to reach over 1, 000 people in Sitolo Vilage and surrounding villages of Molosiyo and Ndawambe.
CEM Communications and Advocacy Officer, Wonderful Mkhutche, said last week after touring the project in Mchinji and its beneficiaries that results from the project are encouraging.
He said it would take ages for the area to bank on power from the national grid; hence implementation of the solar mini-grid project.
Said Mkhutche: “For now, we can see the economic benefits such as maize mills, opening of welding shops, barber shops, hair salons and groceries.
“These businesses have come about because of this project and people are benefiting socially and economically.”
He also said a manual of the Sitolo poject has been developed for possible replication in other parts of the country. Sitolo Village Energy Committee Deputy Chairperson, Felister Chisi, said that they are responsible for the management and sustainability of the project by ensuring community ownership.
She, however, observed that apart from household use of electricity, many people lack capital to venture into small-scale businesses to maximize available energy to their socio-economic advantage.
one of the grocers in the village, Anne Nyirenda, who is the only person owning a refrigerator for business purposes, said her profits from selling cold beverages have increased.
The project has also created jobs for the youth who were trained to work as electrical technicians while others are employed as casual laborers for extension of power supply to villages.
A mini-grid is an off-grid electricity distribution network involving small-scale electricity generation.
Note: Story first appeared in The Nation newspaper of Monday, February 17, 2020, page 14 and was written by Steve Chilundu.