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MEGA Malawi

About MEGA Malawi

On 21 and 22 March 2016, MEGA featured on BBC World Service programme Newsday, which came live from Bondo.

Access to electricity is a fundamental prerequisite for development.  Lack of energy services adversely affects all aspects of people’s lives and livelihoods at home, at work and at community facilities such as health centres and schools. 

Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world.  85% of Malawi’s 15 million population lives in rural areas, of which only 1% has electricity.   The rural electrification programme is under-resourced and most rural areas have little hope of gaining access to grid electricity in the near future.

This project is based in Mulanje, the most densely populated of all rural districts in Malawi with a population of 540,000 people. The vast majority of these are not connected to the grid.

This project will bring clean, renewable energy to:

  • 4 health centres serving a population of over 29,000 people
  • 6 schools serving 1,400 students as well as enabling evening classes for adult learning
  • 3 business centres (1 in each community), serving at least 11 businesses
  • 4,000 people in 810 households with direct connections to the mini-grids
  • 13,000 people in 2,600 households with access to battery-charging facilities
     

Case studies and blogs from this project

Case studies

Blogs about this project

 

Blog listing

Meeting rural electricity needs in Malawi

An expanding geographic area of work for Practical Action is in Malawi's agriculture and energy s...
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Building HOPE for women farmers in Chikwawa

In September, I spent a few days in Chikwawa, in Malawi’s lower Shire region. My mission was to c...
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Bringing sustainable energy to rural communities in Malawi

Five weeks into working at Practical Action and I’ve just returned from Malawi to see some of the...
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Generating electricity from micro hydro

Micro hydro energy harnesses the power of falling water. Mulanje has a huge micro-hydro resource – a surveyed potential of 15.6 GWh per annum, enough for hundreds of communities in the region. Practical Action has extensive experience of installing small scale micro hydro in rural areas. It has proved an easy to maintain and long-term solution to the energy needs of poor communities.

Micro-hydro power

Micro-hydro power is a renewable, indigenous and non-polluting resource for the small-scale generation of energy using falling water.

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Read more on the MEGA Malawi website

Case study from Bondo

This is a case study of the Bondo micro hydro Scheme in Mulanje District, Malawi. The scheme was constructed by Practical Action Southern Africa in partnership with the Mulanje Mountain Conservation Trust (MMCT) under the Catalysing Modern Energy Services Delivery to Marginalised Communities in Southern Africa project.

 

MEGA as a social enterprise

An innovative feature of this project is the aim to enable replication in other communities in Mulanje. This will be achieved through building the capacity of Mulanje Energy Generation Authority (MEGA) as a sustainable and ambitious social enterprise - aiming to tackle the dual challenges of sustainability and scale.

Without professional organisations to manage the financial and technical aspects, many mini-grid systems fail when expensive parts break and need replacement. With no business model or ambition for scale, many projects do not scale-up beyond the community.

MEGA will own and operate micro-hydro schemes, with a tariff structure that ensures financial viability and encourages social impact. It will attract investment to develop future schemes and extend the impact.

MEGA's founding principles include:

  • To offer affordable energy to rural customers;
  • To manage a financially sustainable business
  • To make the energy supply as widely available as possible.

These have a direct impact on the financial strategy of MEGA, which will have a price minimisation policy, which will be balanced against delivering a financially self sustaining business, plus anexpansionist policy, in respect of setting up new sites.

Running a social enterprise is not an 'easy option', instead MEGA will deliver its financial strategy against performance metrics that differ from a conventional business. The need to run a financially efficient operation will still be a priority and by clearly understanding, accounting for and reporting on these 'alternative' measures, MEGA will aim to be successful in delivering on its mission.

Measuring impact

Many of the key impacts expected from the provision of electricity relate to the quality of life of residents in the area. In order to ensure that these could be measured a baseline survey was conducted at the start of the project. Information on fuel costs, labour and time spent gathering fuel plus information on the people generally responsible for these tasks.  A further survey will be undertaken when the energy facility has been in place for a year to measure its social and financial impact. 

Read more on the MEGA Malawi website

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