In our latest visit to Malawi in August 2014, the Strathclyde MREAP team went to see Mambala Primary School in Phalombe district to learn how the community is managing to run and operate their recent energy project.

Basic Facts

  • The project was implemented by Community Energy Malawi (CEM) under the CEDP strand of MREAP and has been in operation roughly since the start of June 2014.
  • Beneficiaries: 952 male pupils, 999 female pupils, 20 male teachers, 6 female teachers, and 10 (7M, 3F) employed through the revenue generation activities.  4 of the households of teachers have small solar home systems.
  • The full capital cost of the project was about MK7.25m or about £11,000 altogether.  The project consists of several solar PV systems:
    • 4x85W PV Panels for 3 classrooms,1 head teacher office, and 1 staff room.
    • (4)100W PV Panels installed at teacher’s households – 4 total households
  • The project also sold 40 solar lanterns to the community
  • The main revenue generating activities are mobile phone charging and radio charging.

Status of the Project

At this early stage it was no surprise that all the systems were in working order.  When we arrived a number of members of the community were filtering in to the barber shop.  An array of mobile phones extended from the outlet along with 2 small rechargeable radios.  Each of the classrooms had working lights, though some of the switches had been worn out.

Mavuto Kambochola Banda, the development officer in CEM responsible for the project, was gathering data on project performance during the visit.  In all he spoke with the headmaster to determine beneficiary numbers, the treasurer to determine project accounting, and interviewed the teachers who gained access to home systems – looking into the electricity using assets typically at home.

Interview with the Mambala School Solar PV Treasurer

As part of project monitoring we captured 3 monthly income generation performance. Fanny Makwale keeps track of the records produced a book that showed income thus far has been around MK30,000 from mobile phone and radio charging.  Sale of solar lanterns to the community brought in an additional 190,000.

Home PV Systems for Teachers