Productive Use of Energy to Spur Economic Growth

Mr Arnold KadziponyeArnold Kadziponye,
Project Coordinator,
Mulanje Renewable Energy Agency (MuREA)

MEGA is Malawi’s first licensed Independent Power Producer and currently generates 60kW from hydro power and has 280 customers.  It serves the village health clinic and two schools, namely Kabichi Primary School with an enrolment of 1505 pupils and Kabichi Secondary School with an intake of more than 400 scholars. The excitement in the village was immense after seeing that it is indeed possible to generate electricity from the same river found in their village.

People from the surrounding villages of Kalamwa, Nkundi, Nkhulambe, Bondo, Bondo II, Kashoni, Naimbele and Naluwade contributed to the construction through provision of labour and sand  to ensure they get electricity.  You can imagine their joy upon seeing that power came from an initiative they took part in.  The first customer got connected in 2013 and people couldn’t imagine their dream was coming into reality upon seeing the health centre had light. This pushed many into investing in wiring their own houses in anticipation that they will soon forget using the hazardous kerosene.

“I didn’t think I would live to witness the use of electricity in our village, let alone in my house and my shop. I use electricity to light my house and my electric kettle makes hot water so much faster than when we had to use firewood. Imagine, I now have a refrigerator and am selling cold drinks in my shop.” said B.B. Godfrey of Chuma ndi Anthu Grocery.

I am responsible for the productive use component of the Powering Development in Mulanje project.  The aim is to improve the economic status and livelihoods of the local community by utilizing and optimizing opportunities created by access to electricity. MEGA has a strong interest in increasing electricity consumption and growing revenue from business customers. 

The coming of electricity Bondo has witnessed the mushrooming of many different businesses: grocery shops with a fridge / freezer and selling cold drinks and ice lollies; home cinemas with video shows; barber shops; phone and battery charging; tailoring; fresh fish suppliers; bar with music; and burning audio disks. It is interesting to note that housewives have also ventured into entrepreneurial actitivities which is a move towards economic empowerment: “Before I started selling ice lollies I used to wait for my husband to give me money to buy vegetables from the market, but now I have my own money and am independent” said Line Mangani, 57, of Kalamwa Village.

I am also promoting social aims which focuses on electricity use in the schools and the health centre, and supporting the Village Electricity Committee – a vital link between MEGA and the community and customers on issues related to land, labour and company policies.