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Supporting community energy development in Malawi : a scoping study for the Scottish Government

Davis, Georgy and MacKay, Rona and MacRae, Mel and Nicolson, Laura and Currie, Catherine and MacPherson, Ronnie and Banda, Elijah and Tembo, Kelvin and Ault, Graham and Frame, Damien Fleming and Picken, Sandra (2011) Supporting community energy development in Malawi : a scoping study for the Scottish Government. [Report]

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The Scotland and Malawi Co-operation Agreement sets out the ways in which the respective country’s governments engage and work with each other. Key elements of the Co-operation Agreement include regular discussion, learning and expertise exchange between the countries, and a Scottish Government (SG) financed International Development Fund, which supports discrete projects within Malawi. Under the auspices of the Co-operation Agreement, Ministerial discussion during the UN Climate Change Summit in Cancun in December 2010 highlighted the Government of Malawi’s target of increasing electricity access in Malawi from 8% to 15% of the population by 2015. It was agreed that the SG would consider how best it could contribute to this ambition through the Co-operation Agreement’s existing mechanisms. Against this background, the following scoping study was commissioned by the SG. The study commences with an overview of the broad energy and electricity sectors in Malawi, but its specific purpose is to understand how off-grid, community-level renewable energy technology can contribute towards meeting Malawi’s energy needs. To an extent, the scoping study also has its roots in one of the first projects to be supported through the SG’s International Development Fund. The University of Strathclyde-led Community Rural Electrification and Development (CRED) project aimed to improve the sustainability of rural solar panel deployments in Malawi by focussing on community engagement and empowerment, local responsibility and income generation. Learning captured through the project indicated that, aside from the obvious energy provision, community-level generation had the potential to bring considerable socio-economic benefits to rurally isolated Malawians. Given this grounding and experience, the SG invited the University of Strathclyde to lead this scoping study.