Lilongwe, A mini solar village project to be installed in Sitolo village Traditional Authority (TA) Mlonyeni in Mchinji is expected to transform lives of over 150 households of Sitolo and surrounding villages.
The project which is being funded by government through United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), will have a generation capacity of up to 80 kilowatts.
The Min Solar Power Grid that will stand on an acre of piece of land will consist of 265 solar panels that will be able to generate 320 Watts each.
According to Energy Development Officer for Community Energy Malawi, Berias Unyolo, the implementers of the project, it is expected that the project would be commissioned by end of March, 2019.
I think in three weeks’ time the project will be up and running since most of the equipment have already been procured. We are just waiting for the contractor to now start installing the gadgets before the project becomes operational, he discolsed.
According to Principal Energy Officer from the Department of Energy Affairs under the Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, Cornwell Chisale, the project would serve as a case study for providing power to isolated communities in the country.
We want this to be a learning ground that instead of leaving communities wait until Escom grid reaches them which takes a long time because of costs that are involved in constructing power lines, we can take the power to them using the mini grid initiative, he explained.
Chisale added that, By taking the power to where the people are, we are actually taking employment to them; we are improving their livelihoods; we are promoting education because learners will be able to study in their homes.
He said the things they spend time to look for, such as maize mills, phone charging which take a lot of their productive time, will be within reach noting that the time they would be sparing on these errands, would be used for other meaningful and productive ventures.
As regards sustainability of the project Chisale assured that it would self-sustaining as the people would be paying for the electricity generated.
He explained that, A market assessment was done and the willingness-to-pay study was also conducted. These people you see here are very eager to pay for the power that will be produced at this place.
Village headman Sitolo, in whose area the project is located, could not hide his excitement saying he can’t wait to see the project coming to fruition.
This project is a big blessing to my area because it will help improve the wellbeing of my subjects. Think of having maize mills right within my village, my people getting engaged in small scale business ventures such as welding workshops, salons, barber shops and video show rooms, I am so excited about it, he observed.
Another Min grid but which is hydro in nature is being implemented at Bondo TA Mabuka in Mulanje while another one is yet to be commissioned at Usingini in Nkhatabay.
Source: MANA Online