Malawi: Development Partners Commit in Supporting Renewable Energies

Lilongwe — The World Bank Group and European Union (EU) are committed to helping Malawi achieve universal access to reliable, affordable, sustainable, and modern energy.

The agenda is aimed at building strong prosperous economies, which reduce poverty and deliver shared prosperity when most developing countries are struggling to sustain power supply.

In an interview with Malawi News Agency (MANA) on Thursday World Bank Country Manager for Malawi, Greg Toulmin, said the World Bank Groups engagement in Malawi is designed to support improvements in access to electricity, security of supply, and the viability of sector institutions.

"The World Bank Group is helping countries accelerate their transition to clean energy by ensuring they have access to the latest policy, financial and technological innovations.

"The agenda is aimed at generating investor confidence and to mobilize large scale competitive financing for renewable energy projects," he said.

He said access to electricity is being strengthened through technical assistance and funding for grid extension and densification, off-grid solar, and mini grid development.

Toulmin said among others, the Grant based funding from the Energy Sector Management Assistance Program, the Korean World Bank Group Partnership Facility and the Global Infrastructure Facility were instrumental in enabling the financing of investment project preparation.

He added that the grant was also meant for technical assistance in the areas of geospatial least cost electrification planning, solar resource mapping, the design of a national electrification strategy, and an off-grid market assessment to provide electricity to remote communities.

"Security of supply is being addressed through investments in transmission interconnections, and new generation, while capacity building support is being provided to strengthen the financial condition and sustainability of sector institutions.

"The comprehensive solar mapping managed by the World Bank Group has been a resource for the government of Malawi and for the private sector to design and develop sustainable solar photovoltaic (PV) projects," said Toulmin.

Grid-connected solar PV projects are expected to add competitively priced electricity to Malawi's generation mix.

On financing coal projects, Toulmin said the World Bank Group has not financed a new coal-fired power plant since 2010 and has no active coal-fired power generation in its pipeline.

"We aim to support our clients in building back better from the COVID-19 crisis and maintaining their focus on sustainable development.

"It is important that investments, including in renewable energy, and energy efficiency, can help create jobs, support ancillary industries, and pave the way for resilient green recovery in each country," he said.

Charge d'Affaires of the EU Delegation to Malawi, Ivo Hoefkens said the EU External Investment Plan (EIP) is designed to attract or crowd in private investors in a number of sectors including Sustainable Energy.

Hoefkens said the EU is supporting investors through their GET invest programme, which is a Finance Catalyst facility providing financing advise to private sector participants in renewable energy and clean cooking but also supporting some community-based solar energy projects in Malawi.

He said the MK5 billion Sustainable Energy for Rural Communities Project covering Malawi and Zimbabwe, which was implemented by Practical Action installed four solar powered mini-grids as well as energy kiosks in Chikwawa and Nsanje districts.

He said the project which is called Breaking the Barriers and is estimated at K2 billion is ongoing

It isimplemented by Christian Aid and promotes women entrepreneurship in sustainable energy value chains in Karonga, Chikwawa and Mangochi.

"Inclusion of solar energy is strongly encouraged in irrigation and agribusiness projects which are part of the sustainable agriculture portfolio.

"In partnership with the Government of Malawi and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, the EU is supporting trainings of extension workers and smallholder farmers throughout the country," said Hoefkens.

The Sustainable Energy for Rural Communicates project ran from 2015 to 2019, while the Breaking the Barriers project started in 2018 and ends in 2021.

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