As we continue to advocate for and recognize the importance of independent power producers in the country, today I went to the Sitolo 80KWp Solar PV Mini Grid, which is located in the group village headman Sitolo in Mchinji district.
Commissioned in 2019, the plant has 726 connections of which 35 are Businesses, 2 maize mills and 7 Social Institutions including a primary school. There are also over 300 people more on the waiting list. The construction was done with financial and technical support from Government of Malawi, UNDP and GEF and it is being operated and managed by Community Energy Malawi social enterprise.
I was astounded to see how the presence of electricity has changed the lives of the local populace. I spoke with women who owned tuckshops, bars, and poultry farms, among other businesses. When I went to one maize mill, I also ran across a specific woman. She narrated to me many challenges she encountered when going to the neighboring country of Zambia in search of a maize mill.
Additionally, there is a man who operates a cooking oil expeller where farmers in the area go with their sunflower seeds for free production of cooking oil. The owner of the expeller collects the residues, which he also sells in Zambia and Malawi for use as animal feed.
These are but a few instances of the benefits that electricity can have on people’s lives, and as a government, we will continue to encourage the development of more minigrids in areas where communities are 10KM away from the grid to complement ESCOM’s efforts. Many thanks once more to UNDP, GEF, Community Energy Malawi, and personnel from my ministry for a job well done.