The United Nations Under-Secretary-General and High-Representative for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, Ms. Fekitamoeloa ‘Utoikamanu, visited Malawi from 6th to 9th February 2019 to launch the Malawi investment study on sustainable energy access. The study aims to identify sustainable energy investment opportunities in Malawi and its preliminary results will be presented in an international meeting in China later in March this year to seek viable financing opportunities.
The USG was accompanied in her visit by the Malawi Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York, Perks Ligoya. Malawi is currently the chair of the Least Developed Countries in New York for the next 3 years. According to the Ambassador, it represents an opportunity to seek ways to accelerate the SDG’s agenda achievement for Malawi.
During the visit, ‘Utoikamanu also met with the Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development, Goodall Gondwe, and Principal Secretary of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Ben Botolo, on the study, which will be conducted by the Rocky Mountain Institute.
Gondwe said the study is timely as Malawi continues to have limited electricity generation capacity.
“This study will help identify the best sources of energy, ways to increase investments in the energy sector and how to increase access to energy to communities across the country to add to the current small population of Malawians who access electricity,” said the Minister.
‘Utoikamanu said Malawi has potential to increase its energy sector and consequently improve development outcomes in many other sectors through increased access to energy.
“Every Malawian deserves full access to energy, to an adequate and reliable level of power that allows a home to affordably operate, for children to study, food to be kept from perishing, enough for a dignified and healthy life,” said ‘Utoikamanu. “Malawi has an abundance of resources with which a sustainable energy sector could thrive. This study is intended to highlight the areas for investment in order to ultimately achieve energy access for all and leave no one behind as we strive to meet Sustainable Energy Goal 7.”
UN Resident Coordinator, Maria Jose Torres, said the study builds on ongoing support that the UN is already providing to Malawi to improve the country’s electricity generation capacity and ensure no one is left behind on access to renewable and affordable energy.
“We believe the energy situation is putting a break on the sustainable development of Malawi,” said Torres. “The study will speak about the options which Malawi has and how to get investors to develop those options to promote access to energy for Malawians. What we can also expect is to learn from the best practices around the region on how to tap on the best technology and access to financing for sustainable energy.”
The launch of the study, jointly organised by the Government of Malawi’s Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining and the United Nations Office of the High Representative for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS), with support from UNDP Malawi, included discussions on the study’s focus, implementation plan and its impact, involving officials from the Malawi Government, financial institutions, academia, private sector, development partners and the energy sector.
During the discussion, Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining Chief Director for Energy, Chimwemwe Banda, said increasing access to renewable energy is one way of improving energy access in Malawi.
“The Government of Malawi is very pleased to partner with the United Nations on this timely study. Access to modern energy is an important issue for all Malawians and investment in the modern energy sector is key for the country’s future development,” said Banda.
Currently, only 11 percent of Malawi’s population has access to electricity, 46 percent in urban areas and in rural areas this figure is at 2 percent. At present, just 7 percent of the total energy consumed in Malawi is renewable energy.
Women’s economic empowerment is key to the acceleration of the SDG agenda in Malawi
Aside from the launch of the study, ‘Utoikamanu visited m-Hub, an innovative business incubation centre in Lilongwe, where she interacted with women entrepreneurs on challenges and opportunities they face in their businesses.
Accompanied by the Germany Ambassador, Jürgen Borsch, ‘Utoikamanu also visited beneficiaries from a GIZ Clean Cookstove Initiative in Nathenje in the district to appreciate how the project is transforming the lives of people who make the cookstoves.
One of the beneficiaries from the project said the cookstoves have not only improved the environment but his income as well, saying he used to sell charcoal for a living, but his family now depends on the cookstoves business since the initiative started.
In concluding her mission to Malawi, the USG visited Thanthwe Farms, a subsidiary of Thanthwe Enterprises, where the farm’s owner, Ngabaghila Chatata, showed how combining livestock production and horticulture has turned into a thriving venture.
Chatata said her enterprise currently supplies vegetables and livestock products to supermarkets, hotels and individual homes in Lilongwe, adding the farm also provides training to farmers from the surrounding communities.