Smiles were all over the faces of the people of Bondo Village in the area of Traditional Authority Sungamzeru in Mulanje district where United Nations Development Program (UNDP) handed over 220 Kilowatts mini-grid to Malawi Govenment.
The Minister of Energy Honourable Ibrahim Matola received the project on behalf of the government.
The Mini-Grid which has been constructed by an organization called Mulanje Electricity Generation Agency (MEGA) with support from the UNDP is so far benefiting 1600 households who are not connected to the main grid.
Speaking during the handover ceremony which took place at Kabichi Primary School, UNDP resident representative Shigeki Komatsubara congratulated the community for ensuring that the project has come into operation saying that at first, they were only trying to see if the community can be able to run a power generation company.
“This is the first social enterprise model. We established a community to run the company and it is now a success story as you can see that the community is benefitting from this mini hydro station. These people do not have to worry about blackouts and energy problems anymore,” said Komatsubara.
The UNDP representative also indicated that the organisation aims at constructing 50 more mini-grids in the country to ensure that the rural areas have access to electricity.
“With the $500 000 we have invested, the project has changed many lives here and there are investors who have shown interest in scaling up the electricity generation to 6.5 Megawatts which is good for the economic development activities of the country as these people will be able to run different businesses throughout the year without worrying about the blackout,” he said.
In his reaction, Minister of Energy Ibrahim Matola said it is in the government’s plan to connect many people to electricity using different energy sources available in their communities and leave the main grid to industries and other urban users so that the country can attract investors to establish businesses that will benefit Malawians.
“On behalf of the President, Dr. Lazarus Chakwera I am very happy and grateful to UNDP for this development as this is just a manifestation of his wish to have 1000 megawatts of electricity in the country. As a government, we have done feasibility studies across the country and have discovered a lot of places where we are going to establish mini-grids so that we can achieve our target of having no blackouts in the country,” Matola explained.
MEGA Enterprise Operations Officer Arnold Kaziponye said that they aim to expand from generating 220KW to 6.5MW of which 4 MW will be contributed to the national grid and the remaining to the targeted 10,000 customers by 2025.
Speaking on behalf of the community, Traditional Authority Sungamzeru said he was delighted to see his community having electricity that is cheap and reliable as they do not experience blackouts and hopes that many students will now be selected for public secondary schools as they can now study without difficulties.
The Mini Grid is among other places supplying electricity to Bondo Health Center, Bondo Primary School, 3 Maize Mills, and a shop.