World Bank hails ESCOM for hitting 75,000 new electricity connections through MEAP in a year!

Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (ESCOM) Limited has received glowing praise from the World Bank for doubling new electricity connections from 35,000 households to 75,000 in the in one year through Malawi Electricity Access Project Project (MEAP).

The World Bank funds MEAP with ESCOM Limited implementing its on-grid component, which registered 74,800 new connections as of March 31, 2024. The Ministry of Energy implements the off-grid component of MEAP.

Reacting to the development, ESCOM Limited Chief Operations Officer, Eng. Maxwell Mulimakwenda, writing to ESCOM staff, said the power utility company feels energised by the praise from the World Bank.

“Honestly, it feels great when your efforts are being recognized. This recognition has come from the sponsor of the project which means they have confidence in what we are doing. Let’s all feel proud of this recognition as this achievement is a result of all your efforts. Let this recognition inspire us to achieve even more this year,” he said.

Speaking during a meeting between the World Bank Group and Malawi delegation at the IMF/World Bank Group 2024 Spring Meeting, the Bank’s Practice Manager [Energy Eastern and Southern Africa] Yadviga Semikolenova said the Bank is impressed with the progress made in providing clean energy access in Malawi.

“Before 2023, the Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi was able to connect only 35,000 people a year to the national grid which was not fast enough. This was the best the utility provider could do but given how fast the population has grown it didn’t give a dent.

“World Bank Group worked very closely with the Malawi Government and the utility company to make sure it has the capacity and all equipment necessary for scaling up. We are impressed that in 2023 alone, connections to the grid grew from 35,000 to over 75,000 which is no mean achievement,” Semikolenova said.

Semikolenova said the government also understands that with the increasing population, off-grid energy can be generated with current technology by harnessing solar energy with almost the same quality as the grid energy.

“ The government put together the ‘Result-Based’ Facility which the private sector could benefit through the provision of subsidies to enhance confidence in investors. Malawi is now the fastest growing off-grid energy market in East Africa,” she said.

Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Simplex Chithyola-Banda said before the World Bank Group intervened in the energy sector, ESCOM faced capacity challenges and the government asked the Bank to assist with contract management skills which were lacking.

“The question of resources is connected to the question of planning because we need to figure out the cheapest way to provide access.

“Government is bringing in a lot of private sector in the energy sector, a good example being that of Mpatamanga Hydropower Project which the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency [Miga] is providing guarantee for US$50 million for its completion,” he said.

Phase One for MEAP targets households located within a 500-metre radius of existing distribution transformers with the ultimate objective of connecting 180,000 households upon its completion. MEAP was launched in December 2022 but rolled out officially in February 2023.

Story sourced from Malawi Government official Facebook page

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