Mulanje Electricity Generation Agency(MEGA) 100 kW Minigrid


MEGA , Malawi’s first community-based and licensed mini-grid enterprise is currently operating a 60 kW hydro plan in lower Bondo, on the Lichenya River ,serving 610 households, over 30 businesses, two maize mills and a few public institutions in villages surrounding the Bondo river.The plant was installed in 2013.

Under its component one, the UNDP and GEF funded project, ‘Increasing Access to Clean and Affordable Decentralised Energy Services in Selected Vulnerable Areas of Malawi’,  is directly supporting the implementation of a second 100 kW micro-hydro powered mini-grid operated by MEGA at Namainja (the Lujeri Micro-hydro power plant - MHPP) and provide institutional support for the development of several other MEGA MHPPs.The project is will also supporting the institutional capacity of MEGA to help establish it as a self-sustaining entity.

As Malawi’s first community-based mini-grid enterprise, MEGA is a pioneer for future project developers and government stakeholders working to achieve universal access to sustainable energy. The project aims to inspire and inform the development of a vibrant mini-grid market in Malawi and beyond.

The project is part of MEGA’s overall aim to provide the rural, off-grid villages of the Mount Mulanje area with access to affordable and available electricity and energy services, locally generated through a series of up to ten mini-hydropower schemes (of about 40 to 100kW each) in which  up to a total of 5000 households (about 30,000 men, women and children) are expected to be directly connected.

Currently, the project is at power plant distribution network installation stage.

The project is also drawing its extra financing from the Scottish Government . It is a four-year project running from 2015 – 2019. Sgurr Energy is the lead implementing partner. MEGA is the lead organisation in Malawi, alongside partners MuREA and Practical Action.

Livelihoods and Community Use

The project new 100 will support at least 15 businesses to establish and grow with the aim of raising entrepreneurs’ incomes and availing new products and services in the community. The project aims to support a maize mill, welding and machine shop, carpentry and bakery. Entrepreneurs will be given business and skills training and linked with finance providers for investment. MEGA’s commercial viability hinges on revenue from high power productive users. The project will also connect and wire two schools and support purchase of medical equipment for the large health clinic.

Watershed Management

A watershed management component targets protection and improvement of the hydro system’s catchment area and the generation infrastructure.  The trees of Mount Mulanje are under threat from timber cutters, charcoal makers and upland agriculture. Deforestation increases the risk of flash floods that can damage the intake and generation infrastructure. It also reduces the water-holding capacity of the watershed which leads to low river levels and reduced power generation in the dry season.The project will plant some 200,000 trees in the hydro system’s catchment area and place bamboo and grass around the power canal.  Farmers will be trained in conservation agriculture and the community sensitised on the harm of deforestation.

Knowledge Dissemination

As the first licensed Independent Power Producer in Malawi, MEGA has been a steep learning curve for all involved and there are many experiences to share. The project hosts regular study visits from Government, donors and NGOs, academic and students. The project will produce case studies and learning products on the social enterprise model and promoting productive use of energy. PDM is working closely with the Global Environment Facility to support the replication of the mini-grid social enterprise model in other districts of Malawi. 

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