In response to significant demand for electricity, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Southern Africa Energy Program (SAEP), a Power Africa initiative, is working with the Government of Malawi and the private sector in restructuring the nation’s power market to enable the use of untapped energy capacity. In addition, the program is supporting the government, the regulator, and utilities in Malawi to create an enabling environment for public and private sector investment in the power industry.
Considering the fact that off-grid electricity access is a key focus of Malawi’s newly approved National Energy Policy (2018), stand alone solar home systems (SHS) were identified as one of the most flexible, easy to deploy off-grid electrification solutions. USAID launched the Malawi SHS Kick-Starter Program to accelerate the rate of new connections through SHS by working closely with private sector SHS companies to enable them to optimize and scale up their operations and reach.
Zuwa Energy, the pay as you go solar market leader in Malawi, has been awarded a grant by USAID and working capital financing from one of the country’s leading banks. Zuwa Energy is among the four companies which also include Vitalite, Solarworks! and Yellow Solar. The announcement was made on 16 July 2019 at Latitude 13 Degrees Hotel in Lilongwe by USAID Malawi Mission Director, Littleton Tazewell.
Speaking on behalf of Malawi Government, Chimwemwe Banda, the Chief Director in the Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, said that the government is committed to achieving universal access to electricity by 2030 through different programmes like MAREP and creating an enabling environment for private sector investment in the energy industry. ‘Electricity is power. I have travelled to rural areas in Malawi and when electricity is connected to such areas, you start to see small towns booming. Development revolves around electricity’ she said.
Ashley King, the USAID Regional Energy Officer for Southern Africa said that the USAID supports Power Africa through programs that bring together technical and legal experts, the private sector, and governments to work in partnership to increase the number of people with access to power. ‘The goal for Power Africa is to achieve 30,000 megawatts of new generated power and 60 million new connections by 2030 to reach 300 million Africans. The Malawi Solar Home System Kick-Starter Program is part of that wider goal’ she said.
Speaking when accepting the grant, Jones Ntaukira, the Chief Executive Officer for Zuwa Energy Limited thanked USAID for launching the program and awarding Zuwa Energy the results-based financing. ‘I believe that Malawi can achieve universal access for electricity by 2030 if we create a robust ecosystem for private companies to thrive and if there is political will. The USAID Kick-Starter program is one of the ecosystem catalysts that is coming at the right time to create a sustainable industry with increased investment and continued political will’. Ntaukira recognised that working with USAID and local banks will foster growth and enable the company to reach out to as many unserved and underserved Malawians as possible while creating new jobs and improving people lives.
The Kick-Starter Program will run from July 2019 to March 2021.
SAEP is funded by USAID in support of the U.S. Government’s Power Africa initiative. Power Africa includes 12 U.S. Government agencies, more that 145 private companies, and 18 bilateral and multilateral development partners to support sub-Saharan governments by working together to increase the number of people with access to power. The SHS Kick-Starter Program is a SAEP’s flagship program in Malawi to facilitate the development of a sustainable SHS market through grant funding, technical assistance.
About Zuwa Energy
Zuwa Energy is the market leader and first company to sell pay as you go solar home systems in Malawi. Founded in 2016 as a for profit social enterprise, it is 100% locally owned with its headquarters in Area 6, Lilongwe, Malawi. Zuwa’s vision is to eradicate energy poverty and improve the lives of Malawians through access to clean, safe and affordable solar household systems by 2030. Its mission is to provide affordable access to high quality solar systems in Malawi using pay as you go (prepaid) technology and mobile money payments.