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 Hydroelectric Power Plants.

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 Act also necessitated the establishment of Rural Electrification Management Committee (REMAC) in pursuant to Section 4 (1) of the Rural Electrification Act No. 21 of 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.

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. In phase VIII MAREP electrified 336 trading centers across the country. Soon after phase VIII which ended in June 2018 MAREP introduced Extended MAREP Phase VIII which is electrifying 270 trading centers; 10 in each of 27districts except Likoma. Extended phase VIII is currently underway and progress is at 50% and is expected to be completed in August 2019.

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. However, the Ministry has noted that most of the rural households are taking long to connect their houses owing to a number of reasons which include inability to meet the connection fee. In this regard, the Ministry in collaboration with ESCOM is working on implementing Ndawala Project under which households will be connected with financial and technical support from the Ministry under MAREP and ESCOM at a cost which will be recovered through electricity bills.

MAREP future plans is that it should continue electrifying rural growth trading centers as its mandate of increasing access so that it can reach the target of 30% accessibility. To do that, preliminary preparations are underway of introducing MAREP Phase VIIII on which preparations will start in July 2019. MAREP phase VIIII is intending to electrify 500 trading centers in all the districts across the country.