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As Malawi is trying to find lasting solutions to its energy challenges, the Kamwamba Coal-Fired Power plant in Neno district is still taking the center stage. The project is being funded to the tune of 600 US Dollars loan which Malawi government sought from China's Exim Bank. The plant will add to the national grid 300-megawatts with the country needing 500-megawatts, but only half is currently being generated. But the irony to the whole project is that it is being pursued using money borrowed from a country that is currently closing down all its coal powered projects in preference for renewable energy. Speaking to the Nation newspaper, Community Energy Malawi's (CEM), Country Director, Edgar Kapiza Bayani, noted government's desperation in all this.

"This could be a case of desperate situations calling for desperate measures," she says.

"There is desperation in government to find solution to incessant blackouts, especially with the political stakes this energy issue posses," he continues.

CEM supports the "big shift", a global campaign to switch from fossil fuels to cleaner economies powered by renewable energy. 

"At a time the world is talking about clean energy, we least expected our country to think coal is the ultimate solution - especially with the technological advancements in renewable energy," Bayani further states.

This is in line with the Green and Inclusive Energy (GIE) project which CEM is implementing across the country with support from Hivos. Through Malawi for Green, Localized, Inclusive and Decentralized Energy (Malawi - GLIDE), the organization is in a national advocacy and awareness for green and inclusive energy, especially hydro, solar and wind power. By working together with Government of Malawi, policy makers and other organizations, CEM aims to influence investment and knowledge in renewable energy.

Source: The Nation newspaper, Thursday, October 11, pages 4-5 from the article "Malawi-China Ties On Burning Coal" written by James Chavula, an Energy Reporting award winning journalist with Climate Tracker.

ESCOM To 'Appeal' 32 Percent Tariff Hike

The country's sole power supplier, the Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (ESCOM), has said it will re-engage Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (MERA) to reconsider the recommended 31.8 percent electricity base tariff hike approval. The company said that the hike is not enough to enable it meet its challenges in power supplying. It further went ahead to say that it will borrow K30 Billion from banks to settle its debt. Speaking to the press yesterday in Blantyre its Chief Executive Officer, Alexon Chiwaya, said that the new tariff may help ESCOM improve its service delivery, but it will not address the cost of buying electricity as it remains high, a sentiment that was agreed to by the company's Commercial and Customer Service Manager, Wiseman Kabwazi. "The increase will assist us in moving towards a cost reflective tariff but it would not be as cost reflective. Our current position is to go back to MERA and seek consideration. It is not an appeal but we are rather going to request for reconsideration," he said.

Source: The Daily Times newspaper, Wednesday, October 10, 2018, pages 1 & 3.

CEM Meets Chitipa, Ntchisi and Balaka District Councils For GIE

As a way of making sure District Councils in Malawi are programming issues on Green and Inclusive Energy (GIE), Community Energy Malawi (CEM) met with Chitipa, Ntchisi and Balaka district councils for the cause. The meeting took place in Mponela from September 27 – 28, 2018 and attracted key decision makers including Community Development Assistants (CDAs) who provided an update of work on GIE in their respective communities.

This meeting was a follow up to the one that took place in May 2017 where among others CDAs were equipped on working with their communities using Community Renewable Energy Toolkit for Malawi and Renewable Electricity for Productive Uses manuals for effective GIE implementation.

Speaking to Zodiak Broadcasting Station after the workshop, CEM’s Country Director, Edgar Bayani praised the working relationship between the organization and the District Councils.

“We are happy to see a fruitful working relationship between us and the councils. Our work on GIE has been effective in the districts due to this,” he said.

One of the participants, Bandileko Mwaulambya, CDA from Chitipa, said that the workshop greatly helped her in how she can work with her community.

"I thank CEM for organizing this workshop. Our work with the organization for the GIE project has been successful. This has helped us even further in how best we can work with our communities in making sure green and inclusive energy is accessible to all," she said.

CEM is one of the five organizations working in the Hivos supported GIE project. The organization’s name for its project is Malawi for Green, Localized, Inclusive and Decentralized Energy (Malawi - GLIDE). The project is primarily being implemented in the three districts. Its three objectives include first, influencing the mainstreaming of GIE policies and activities at the District Council level. Second, improve knowledge on the advantages attached to use of green and inclusive technologies. Third, influence national level energy policy and regulatory frameworks to reflect and prioritize energy requirements for attaining SE4ALL and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

CEM Impressed As GIE Malawi Partners Meet in Lilongwe

As a way of continuing working together in the Hivos supported Green and Inclusive Energy (GIE) project, the Malawi consortium met in Lilongwe on September 4, 2018 to find a way forward on how they can work together for continual success of the project.

The consortium, which is being coordinated by Renew’N’Able Malawi (RENAMA), was also attended by other four partners, Community Energy Malawi (CEM)), National Association of Business Women (NABW), Youth and Net Counselling (YONECO) and Malawi Health Equity Network (MHEN).

With partners now fully engaged in various GIE activities, it was time to meet and strategize on, among others, working together which will insure the impact of the interventions reach out to the utmost number of people. GIE is an advocacy project, it therefore needs partners to combine their efforts.

Speaking after the meeting, CEM’s District Energy Officer for Chitipa, Chawezi Gondwe, said that the meeting has been beneficial to the organization. He further observed that even the whole consortium has managed to strike a common understanding.

“This was a success. As partners we have come up with combined efforts and this is very important if we have to reach out to the possible maximum number of people,” he said.

GIE is being implemented in Malawi from 2016 and it will run up to 2020. CEM has three main objectives: First, influence the mainstreaming of GIE policies and activities at both district and national levels. Second, improve knowledge on the advantages attached to use of green and inclusive technologies. Third, influence national level energy policy and regulatory frameworks to reflect and prioritize energy requirements for attaining SE4ALL and SDGs.

CEM Attends Balaka District Executive Council Meeting

Showing solidarity in developmental activities happening in Balaka district, Community Energy Malawi (CEM) was part of the district's August 21, 2018 District Executive Council (DEC) meeting. The council converged through the request of Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social welfare whose officials in the Department of Nutrition, HIV and AIDS were presenting on the new Nutrition policy.

There were several other organizations who were present, among them, Eagles Relief, who are also making intervention on Energy in the district through their soon to be rolled out project. 6, 000 tree seedlings are about to be planted by the organization.

CEM has been working in the district for six years now. Balaka was the organization’s first project beneficiary in its first project. To this day, the two have been in a very good working relationship with the organization planning even more for the district.

According to CEM’s District Energy Officer (DEO) for Balaka, Louis Yona, the organization is currently implementing Malawi Green Localized Inclusive and Decentralized Energy (GLIDE) and Barrier Removal for Energy Access projects in the district. Malawi GLIDE is being supported by Hivos under the Green and Inclusive Energy (GIE) Malawi partnership project while the Barrier Removal for Energy Access is being supported by the Scottish Government.

Among others, Malawi GLIDE project aims at advising district council technocrats on energy interventions while the Barrier Removal for Energy Access works to blueprint district energy officers since there is none in the district to, for example, train district energy extension officers.

To highlight on the immediate project being done by CEM in liaison with the council, Yona said that the LIGHT Balaka initiative is in the offing.

“We are working with the council to make sure that the district has solar powered street lights. Discussions are now underway and we are hoping to see no night in Balaka town," he said.