A mini solar village project to be implemented in Sitolo Village, Traditional Authority (T/A) Mlonyeni in Mchinji, is expected to transform lives of over 150 people.
The project, which is being funded by the Malawi Government through United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), will have a generation capacity of up to 80 kilowatts.
The min solar power grid will have 265 solar panels that will generate 320 watts each.
Implementers of the project, Community Energy Malawi (CEM), said the project is expected to be commissioned at the end of March this year.
“Most of the equipment has already been procured. We are just waiting for the contractor to start installing the gadgets before the project is operational,” said CEM energy development officer Berias Unyolo.
On his part, Department of Energy Affair principal energy officer Cornwell Chisale said the project would serve as a case study for providing power to isolated communities in the country.
“We want this to be a learning ground so that instead of communities waiting for Escom [Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi] power grid to reach them, which takes a long time because of costs that are involved in constructing power lines, we can take the power to them using the mini grid initiative,” he said.
Chisale said the project will help to create employment and improve livelihoods of people.
“We are also promoting education because learners will be able to study in their homes. They will be able to go to maize mills that are within reach,” he said.
In terms of sustainability of the project, Chisale assured that it would be self-sustaining as the people would be paying for the electricity generated.
“A market assessment was done and the willingness to pay study was also conducted. These people you see here are eager to pay for the power that will be produced at this place,” he said.
Village head Sitolo, in whose area the project is located, could not hide his excitement, saying he cannot wait for the project come to fruition.
“This project is a big blessing to my area because it will help improve the well-being of my subjects. Think of having maize mills right within my village and my people getting engaged in small-scale businesses,” he said.
Another min grid is being implemented at Bondo, Village, T/A Mabuka in Mulanje District while another one is yet to be commissioned at Usingini in Nkhata Bay.