By Joseph Mizimbe
A local Nongovernmental Organization (NGO) that works in the area of energy and environmental conservation Renew’N’Able Malawi (RENAMA) says renewable energy sources are key in the development of the country.
The organization has said this following the Department of Energy Affairs’ (DoEA) Access to Clean and Renewable Energy (ACRE) project, being implemented with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) which will run from 2020 to 2023.
The goal of the project is to increase access to clean, affordable, reliable, and modern energy by enhancing the sustainability, efficiency and cost- effectiveness of energy technologies.
Speaking in an interview with this reporter, the organization’s Advocacy and Communication Officer Kenneth Mtago said, there is a need for the country to help in migrating Malawians from using traditional energy sources to those which are environmentally friendly.
“I feel it will take ages to move 82 percent of Malawians who are depending on unsustainable sources of energy which is unclean to clean energy,” he insinuated.
He, however, expresses concern that the involvement of stakeholders working in energy to realize the goal is minimal.
“For instance, there is no advisors at district level to spur and support this project by transferring technical skills to stakeholders supporting government efforts in ensuring that Malawians who are facing energy poverty are supported,” he laments.
So far the Access to Clean and Renewable Energy (ACRE) project has not yet identified and delivered affordable clean and renewable energy solutions, including financial and regulatory incentives, to address energy access challenges which target poor and vulnerable women, men, and children, commercial businesses and entrepreneurs, and the social sector.
“As much the project outcomes seems to be of help to reduce energy challenges. I still feel stakeholders’ involvement is paramount to realize the goal,” Mtago reiterates.
He also bemoans lack of reliable energy sources in health facilities which he said, is one of the causes of high maternal mortality rate in Malawi.
“Unreliable energy sources can discourage nurses and doctors to work in rural areas and storage of delicate medical items such as blood and medicines that require refrigeration becomes a big challenge,” he hinted.
Mtago said Renew’N’Able Malawi is implementing a project supporting the Ministry of Health to reduce maternal mortality rate through rehabilitating solar systems in selected health centres in Thyolo and Phalombe districts.
The project ensures that water is available to these health facilities through solar pumps, and provides training to local artisans who make cook stoves (a new design of stoves) that uses pallets and sustainable charcoal.