The people of Mwaye in Balaka and Chiphaka in Nkhotakota were all smiles as their village got connected to the national electricity grid through the Malawi Rural Electrification Programme (MAREP).
Speaking at a switching on ceremony at Chiphaka, Deputy Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, Werani Chilenga, said increasing access to electricity in rural areas is improving the socio-economic well-being of the people in these areas.
“Increased access to electricity is causing businesses to boom in the villages. Women also no longer have to travel long distances in order to access maize meals,” said Chilenga.
Concurring with the Deputy Minister, Morris Chiponda, a businessperson from Chiphaka Village, said his business will be established with the coming in of electricity.
“It was very difficult to operate my barbershop using a battery. I could close for two to three days in a week in order to have the battery charged. I am now able to open every day with the coming in of electricity,” said Chiponda.
Isaac Mayeke, a shop owner at Mwaye Village, said he is now able to open his shop for longer hours. The coming in of electricity has also enabled him to start new businesses.
“I now sell electricity units from my shop. I have also started charging other people’s phones at a small fee,” said Mayeke.
MAREP is a government of Malawi project aimed at increasing access to electricity to people in peri-urban and rural areas in order to reduce poverty, transform rural economies, improve productivity and improve the quality of social services. To date, over 336 rural centres have been electrified. The project has been extended and will see up to an additional 270 rural centres getting connected to the grid.
A shop at Mwaye village in rural Balaka that has received electricity connection and is now able to open for longer hours.