Ministry of Energy says it is banking on mini-grids to achieve the 100 percent access to electricity target by 2030 as stipulated in the National Energy Policy.
According to the policy document, government plans to attain 70 percent electricity access through off-grid solutions such as mini-grids and solar home systems while 30 percent is to be achieved through grid extension.
Ministry of Energy public relations officer Saidi Banda said in a written response on Wednesday that government projects to increase mini-grids to 50 by 2025, from the current 10.
He said: “The ministry is in the process of procuring consultancy services for feasibility studies for three mini-grids under United Nations Development Programme funding, three under Malawi Rural Electrification Programme and, also, in the planning phase for additional mini-grids with World Bank funding.”
Banda said approximately 5 000 households have benefitted from rural electrification.
In Malawi, electricity penetration is at a paltry 10 percent out of 17.5 million people.
The country is currently facing power supply challenges with hydro-electric generation capacity—which is the main source of energy in Malawi—reduced from the potential demand of 351 megawatts (MW).
At present, Electricity Generation Company (Egenco), the main generator of electricity in Malawi, generates power mainly from hydro facilities, with a capacity of 367 megawatts (MW).
But, according to Egenco spokesperson Moses Gwaza, the 15-year Egenco Strategic Plan (2018-2033) seeks to increase the national power installed capacity from 367.37 MW as of November 2017 to 1 631.5 MW.
He said from the strategy, the aim is to get to an installed capacity of 521.5 MW by 2023, and 1 256.5 MW by 2028.
Said Gwaza: “As of February 2021, we have increased our installed capacity from 367.37MW in November 2017 to 422.45MW.
“This means that the strategic plan is on track and we should be able to achieve the first five-year target of 521.5MW as planned.”
In an earlier interview with Business News, Rodwell Bakolo, a senior lecturer in the Electrical Engineering Department at Malawi University of Business and Applied Sciences said potential players in the energy sector need to be assured of continued business over a long time for them to invest.
He said: “The country first needs a serious soul-searching to find what has prevented higher levels of access to energy, be it from the grid, mini grids or solar.