Malawi is one of the least electrified countries in the world. Only 18% of Malawi’s 18.14 million inhabitants have access to electricity (11.4% provided by the grid network; 6.6% provided through off-grid energy solutions). The Country’s Population Census of 2018 report shows that 85 % of the population relies on traditional biomass as their main energy source. Thus, the country faces significant energy access challenges, with large parts of the population still lacking access to reliable electricity and affordable modern cooking fuels, particularly in rural areas and low-income communities.
In Malawi, the electricity sector largely depends on hydropower generation. The country faces significant pressures due to negative hydrological trends along the Shire River, where 98% of Malawi’s hydropower stations are located. Other challenges include insufficient power generation capacity, difficulties in managing energy infrastructures, difficulties to attract investments in the energy sector and broader political and regulatory challenges. Limited networking of transmission lines impacts negatively on the quality of service for some areas particularly the northern part of Malawi.
Over the past few years, the Malawi Rural Electrification Programme has invested in off-grid community energy solutions to address some of these challenges, particularly issues of energy access in remote rural locations. Drawing lessons from this program will be particularly important to support the design and implementation of future efforts towards off-grid electrification and community-centered approaches to energy delivery.
As the project develops we are finding out more about Malawi's energy situation. In addition to external resources, the team are also producing open access country reports. You can download these from the links below. These include:
- Community energy in Malawi: an annotated bibliography
- Regulatory Framework for Mini-Grids in Malawi
- Malawi Project Stakeholder Analysis
- An overview of community energy systems in Malawi
Access to clean, reliable, reasonably-priced, and sustainable energy supply enables communities to power homes, schools, health facilities, and engage in productive activities and businesses.