Power Sector Stakeholders in Malawi Convene to Unlock Electricity Generation and Electricity Access Projects with GEAPP’s Support

Collen Zalengera, Country Delivery Lead, Malawi

On 6 March 2024, Malawi’s Presidential Delivery Unit (PDU) kicked off an ambitious initiative to transform the country’s energy landscape. Supported by funding from The Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet (GEAPP), the PDU launched a series of delivery labs as part of its “Unlocking Energy and Agro-Energy Projects for Improvement of Livelihoods” project. This event took place at the Bingu wa Muntharika International Conference Centre (BICC) in Lilongwe, Malawi, and gathered stakeholders to strategize on advancing priority energy projects.

The delivery labs, which unfolded in two phases, highlighted the nation’s commitment to sustainable energy development. The first phase, focused on energy projects, ran from 6-8 March, while the agro-energy discussions occurred from 11-14 March. Both events brought together key government institutions, the private sector, and development partners, all with the shared goal of tackling the challenges hindering energy access and productivity.

Key Projects Under Discussion

During the energy delivery labs, stakeholders discussed 14 priority projects. These projects aimed to significantly boost electricity generation and improve access across Malawi through hydropower, solar, regional interconnection and distribution network expansion projects.

In total, these projects have the potential to deliver:

  • 402 MW of additional local generation
  • 120 MW via regional interconnection
  • 20 MW of Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) for grid resilience
  • 2 MW of mini-grid generation utilizing solar and hydro

In parallel, these projects also targeted an expansion of the distribution network, potentially reaching 120,000 new grid connections and approximately 185,000 new solar home systems. Furthermore, strategies for expanding electricity access for irrigation schemes were explored, promising improved livelihoods for smallholder farmers.

Resolving Bottlenecks, Setting Milestones

Stakeholders methodically examined each project’s unique challenges, identifying bottlenecks at both preparation and implementation stages. Collaborative discussions yielded innovative solutions and clear milestones to accelerate project delivery. The engagement fostered a shared understanding of the urgency of Malawi’s energy needs and the strategic pathways needed to overcome existing hurdles.

Government’s Support and Vision

Malawi’s government strongly supported the initiative, with the Minister of Mining, Honourable Monica Chang’anamuno MP, opening the energy lab: “Access to energy stands as a cornerstone of societal development, bearing implications that extend far beyond mere illumination. It is the catalyst for the much needed industrial growth, education, healthcare, and economic empowerment. As we deliberate on strategies to enhance accessibility, let us contemplate on innovative solutions that transcend traditional boundaries. Our goal is not merely to provide power but to empower communities, fostering sustainable progress.”

In his speech when opening the agro-energy lab, the Minister of Energy, Honorable Ibrahim Matola MP said: “Through the GEAPP-supported delivery labs under the PDU, Malawi can achieve her energy access and agro-industrialization aspirations set in her vision for 2063. The Vision has a strategy on investing in power generation and access, which among others seeks to address inefficiencies in the sector, including tariff structures that have contributed to high electricity charges and increased cost of production.”

The Head of PDU and Deputy Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Dr. Janet Banda SC, expressed gratitude to the donor community and particularly recognized GEAPP for their invaluable support. She highlighted the critical role of these partnerships in accelerating flagship energy projects and navigating the associated challenges.

Moving Forward

With a clear framework now in place, Malawi’s energy sector is ready for significant change. By leveraging the delivery lab findings, the nation is well-positioned to unlock its vast energy potential and uplift the livelihoods of its people. The delivery labs have strengthened the commitment to sustainable energy, creating a solid plan for Malawi‘s future.