The Background of Malawi Rural Electrification Programme

Malawi Rural Electrification Programme (MAREP) started in 1980 with Electricity Supply Corporation  of Malawi  ( ESCOM ) as the implementing agency through donor and own financing. Later on, Government of Malawi took over implementation of the programme in 1995 and the Department of Energy (DOE) was appointed implementing agency The programme is executed in Phases. Since MAREP inception, eight phases of the programme have been implemented. This involved extending power  distribution lines to district administration centres, major trading centres, tobacco growing areas and the development of the 4.5 Mega Watt Wovwe Hydro electric Power Plant. The objective of MAREP is to increase access to electricity for people in peri-urban and rural areas as part of Government’s effort to reduce poverty, transform rural economies, improve productivity and improve the quality of social services according to the Rural Electrification Act, 2004.

The Department of Energy Affairs started with construction of MAREP Phase IV in 2002 and was completed in May 2007 with a total of 97 trading centers electrified. MAREP phase V electrified 27 trading centers across the country and was completed in 2009. In Phase VII, MAREP implemented 54 trading centres, two centres in each of the 27 Districts except Likoma which is fully electrified.

Implementation of Malawi Rural Electrification Programme (MAREP) is according to the Rural Electrification Master Plan formulated in 2003, updated from time to time, which draws its mandate from the Rural Electrification Act, 2004.

The Rural Electrification Fund (REF) is the main source of funding for MAREP activities.  Other sources of the Fund include: (i) Such sums as shall be appropriated by Parliament for the purposes of the Fund; (ii) Rural electrification levies on energy sales as may, from time to time, be imposed by the Authority under the Energy Regulation Act; (iii) Such sums or assets as may, from time to time, accrue to or vest in the Fund by way of grants, subsidies, bequests, donations, gifts and subscriptions from the Government or any person; (iv) Such sums or assets as may be donated to the Fund by any foreign Government, international agency or other external body of persons, corporate or unincorporated; (v) 50% of penalties and fines payable or imposed under this Act; (vi) The proceeds from sale of rural electrification lines and equipment funded by the Fund; and (vii) Any other income authorized under this Act or income recognized as such by accounting standards and practices.

Management of Rural Electrification assets is supposed to be under a concessionaire. However, in the absence of such concessionaire, operation and maintenance of all MAREP assets are done by the country's power utility company, ESCOM.

 

Objectives of the Malawi Rural Electrification Programme

The objective of MAREP is to increase access to electricity for people in peri-urban and rural areas as part of Government’s effort to reduce poverty, transform rural economies, improve productivity and improve the quality of social services.

Rural Electrification Management Committee (REMAC)

REMAC was established in pursuant to Section 4 (1) of the Rural Electrification Act No. 21 of 2004.

Objectives of REMAC:

The major objectives of REMAC include the following:

  • To ensure that the majority of the Malawian population in peri-urban and rural communities have access to efficient, sustainable and affordable energy for their social economic development through grid extension and off grid electricity supply, including solar home system technologies;
  • To raise funds and receive and administer the Fund for the benefit of rural electrification in Malawi;
  • To prepare annual rural electrification programme(s) and advise the Minister on the prioritization, selection criteria on candidate sites, and ensure the efficient and effective implementation of rural electrification programmes;
  • To promote rural electrification and act as a source of technical, commercial and institutional advice in rural electrification matters.

Phases of Malawi Rural Electrification Programme (MAREP)

The Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining is continuing with implementation of its flagship Malawi Rural Electrification Programme (MAREP). The Programme is implemented in phases, and the Ministry has just concluded electrification of 336 rural centres across the country under MAREP 8 thereby increasing access to electricity to rural masses.

Soon after phase 8 which ended in June 2018, MAREP introduced Extended MAREP Phase VIII in January 2019 which is electrifying 270 trading centers; 10 in each of 27districts except Likoma. Extended MAREP phase 8 is currently underway and so far, 221 sites have been completed and 49 sites are in progress. Overall progress of the project progress is at 82% and is expected to be completed in March 2020.  

Currently, preliminary preparations that started in July 2019 are underway to introduce MAREP Phase 9 that intends to electrify 500 trading centers in all districts across the country. MAREP future plan is to continue electrifying growing rural trading centers and villages while carrying out its mandate to increase electrification access either through grid extension or decentralised, off-grid technologies such as solar photovoltaic, wind and mini hydropower largely depending on spatial qualities of the targeted centre such as distance from the national grid, demand and settlement pattern, just to mention a few. Therefore, through MAREP IX, the Department also intends to electrify four (4) centres with solar mini-grids in the following districts: Manolo and Malidadi in Mzimba, Kapsyanga in Kasungu and Nsendwe in Lilongwe..