Apr 06, 2023 Macdonald Kaleso
For decades, people in the area of Sub-Traditional Authority Chakanza, a very remote area in Balaka District in Southern Malawi, have had to walk long distances in order to access basic services that require electricity such as cutting hair and charging devices.
Access to most services and merchandise from the closest trading centre, Shire North, is only but a dream during the rainy season as roads become impassable due to flooding.
Authorities in the district say the commissioning of a 12.5 kwh solar hub by Community Energy Malawi (CEM) through ”Ease Project” has definitely come to change the terrain, bringing out highly anticipated change in the lives of the locals.
According to Sub-Traditional Authority Chakanza, horticulture is the main source of income generation for most locals and farmers have been facing challenges due to many negative factors among them being losses incurred as a result of commodities getting bad in bulk due to unavailability of coldrooms.
Chakanza has commended the intervention as it has come along with a coldroom which will facilitate storage of farm produce from farmers surrounding the area and also for over 130 farmers who are into production at the nearby scheme.
Apart from complementing in the Agriculture sector, the hub will also connect electricity to the nearest primary school, Mzepa, electrifying teachers’ houses as well as connecting shops with power.
According to CEM district energy Officer for Balaka, Loius Yona, the intervention aims at improving the livelihood of people in the rural areas through access to clean energy.
”We strongly believe the intervention will address some of the cross-cutting challenges that people face in their lives due to lack of access to electricity,” said Yona.
In his remarks, Balaka District Commissioner, Darwin Mngoli hailed the intervention by CEM saying that it will significantly assist in reducing poverty levels among communities in the area.
”Balaka District is a drought prone area and communities face acute hunger despite the fact that Shire River which can be used productively for commercial farming passes through the district and can be used to increase agricultural productivity,” said Mngoli.
The District Commissioner further said the coming in of the solar hub in the area is a plus to them as it will scale up agricultural productivity at the nearest Scheme.
Meanwhile, Energy Officer in the Ministry of Energy, Alinafe Kasinja, has described the intervention by CEM as the right step towards achieving universal access to energy by 2030.
According to the National Statistical Office, about 18% of the country’s population has access to electricity.
Community Energy Malawi is a Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority licensed Minigrid developer, operator and installer of renewable energy technologies currently working in rural communities of Balaka and Dedza districts.
The Ease project is being implemented with financial support from the Scottish Government.