Scottish Government
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Support to fuel Malawi renewables push

Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs, is driving forward Scotland’s climate justice agenda with support for a groundbreaking, innovative and comprehensive renewable energy programme in Malawi.

Promoting sustainable energy and providing access to reliable electricity in rural areas of Malawi are part of the Malawi Renewable Energy Acceleration Programme which has been awarded over £1.7 million by the Scottish Government. The programme has multiple benefits including reducing poverty and tackling climate change – two of the key themes of climate justice which is being championed by the First Minister, who has raised the issue internationally during recent visits to China and the Gulf.

The Malawi programme, led by Strathclyde University, will empower disadvantaged communities to address their own energy needs and develop their own renewable energy projects, providing access to more reliable electricity for rural towns and villages.  By providing research technology, collaboration, educational and training support and entrepreneurship, Strathclyde University will work with the people of Malawi to develop their renewable energy capabilities and climate change policies, putting Malawi on the path to ‘green growth’.  In addition, the programme will provide support at an institutional level in Malawi to support the formation of policies, including Government policies, for renewable and community energy projects.

Announcing the funding from Scotland’s International Development Fund, Ms Hyslop said:

“Scotland’s commitment and expertise in the areas of both renewable energy and climate change are an important element of Scotland’s contribution to the world.  In this programme these have been allied to Scotland’s focus on projects to help the poorest people in Malawi.  We are working hard to help Malawians help themselves – with the additional global benefit of tackling climate change which benefits us all.

“The people of our two countries have a special and historical relationship, so it is apt that it is the communities of rural Malawi who are benefitting from this innovative initiative.

“Climate justice is at the heart of sustainable development and links human rights and development.  The Scottish Government is a pioneer in climate justice and climate change mitigation is at the heart of our agenda – this initiative supports both of those objectives.

“Developing countries, despite their low levels of carbon emissions, are being hit hard by increasingly erratic weather patterns, without the resources to adapt to the impact of climate change. 

“The Scottish Government remains committed to helping the people of Malawi, and Strathclyde University’s programme will offer advice and support to help them extend renewable energy provision and reliable electricity.”

Work will be carried out by Strathclyde University to see how improved and sustainable community energy provision can support the poorest people in Malawi.  The Malawi Renewable Energy Acceleration Programme will deliver a detailed understanding of the support mechanisms required to empower disadvantaged Malawian communities to participate in addressing their own energy needs.

Graham Ault, Professor of Electrical Power Systems at Strathclyde University, said:

“In Scotland we experience the benefits of secure local energy supplies of different forms and our daily activities in areas such as industry, commerce, education, health care and our homes are enriched in many ways by these supplies of energy. The situation in Malawi is, of course, very different and that nation’s economic development is held back by inadequate access to sustainable sources of energy. 

“This new Renewable Energy Acceleration Programme will create several new Scotland-Malawi partnerships to develop the capability of Malawian organisations and communities to harness their renewable energy resources and reap the economic and social benefits of that.  At the University of Strathclyde, we are excited by this new opportunity and look forward to working with all the project partners to do the necessary ground work, develop pilot projects and deliver real changes to the energy prospects of Malawi.”

This innovative programme will build on a previous successful Community Rural Electrification and Development project between Scotland and Malawi led by Strathclyde University.  That project provided seven solar energy systems in schools and health posts, as well as in eight teachers’ houses.  In one school, this allowed 180 students to continue their studies further into the evening, using solar powered lighting.  Community groups and village health workers also benefited from the new solar lighting systems.  The project also enabled rural communities to maintain valuable lifelines.  Mobile phone charging would have previously involved lengthy trips to a main market or shopping area in a town but new mobile phone charging schemes have proved highly successful with two schools in remote Chikwawa.

Related Information

Following discussions at the UN Climate Change Summit in Cancun in December 2010, the Scottish Government has developed its focus on renewable energy issues in Malawi and how this relates to climate change mitigation and the creation of sustainable paths to development.

The funding of £1,784,106 million will be available to Strathclyde University over three financial years (2011-12, 2012-13 and 2013-14).

Partners to Strathclyde University in Scotland include:

  • Community Energy Scotland
  • IOD PARC and Sgurr Energy

Partners in Malawi include:

  • The Department for Energy Affairs
  • University of Malawi Polytechnic
  • Mzuzu University
  • Concert Universal
  • Opportunity International Bank of Malawi
  • Mulanje Renewable Energy

The Scottish Government’s approach to International Development is distinct and unique with funding highly-targeted and projects rigorously monitored.  We fund organisations with a presence in Scotland who work with partners with the relevant skills, capacity and expertise to deliver programmes on the ground in Malawi.  All our funding goes directly to Scottish-based organisations and not direct to the Government.

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