By Praise Ujani
As the country continues to experience persistent blackouts, Mulanje Renewable Energy Agency (MuREA) through its power generating company Mulanje Electricity Generation Agency (Mega) has disclosed plans to extend power production to 6.5 Megawatts (MW)from the current 220 kilowatts.
MuREA Projects Coordinator Arnold Kadziponye said this will also help to connect about 10 000 households from rural areas while the other generated electricity will be added on the national grid.
“We plan to sell excess power to the national grid. So far a lot has been done and finalized, but we are currently scouting for donor aid,” Kadziponye said.
Mega is the first licensed Independent Power Producer (IPP) in Malawi and started operations in 2014 after receiving a generation and distribution license from the Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority.
The project is based in Bondo Village where it is also helping to address high levels of depletion of trees on Mulanje Mountain to meet the demand for bio-mass energy.
The village is already flourishing economically following over 1 600 connections, which translate to 8 000 direct beneficiaries and 14 500 indirect beneficiaries.
According to Kadziponye, this has contributed to Malawi’s development by, among others, improving education through connection of 12 schools that now offer night classes improving access to health service delivery at the nearby Bondo Health Centre which has eased congestion at Mulanje District Hospital as the centre now handles high tech electronic equipment donated by the project.
The initiative has also empowered women by involving them in various income-generating activities and tasking them with leadership positions in its district electricity committee.
He said; ‘You may as well wish to note that job opportunities have also been created as almost all the workers are from the community.’
Kadziponye however pointed financing of operations as the major challenge saying the current number of customers and demand does not tally with operation costs.
The Ministry of Energy spokesperson Upile Kamoto hailed IPPs for complementing efforts to boost power generation in Malawi after the country set an ambitious target of achieving an electricity generation capacity of over 1 000 MW by 2025.