A recommendations paper is developed as a collaborative approach between The University of Strathclyde Energy for Development team and Loughborough University alongside Gamos Consulting and in-country partners Community Energy Malawi and Mzuzu University, supported and funded by the Scottish Government.

The recommendations paper outlines the proposed role of District Energy Officers (DEOs) in Malawi as a conduit for the Government of Malawi to facilitate the decentralisation of a sustainable energy policy to district level.

Only 10% of Malawian people currently have access to electricity. 89% of the Malawian people are still dependent on biomass for cooking through the use of firewood. Firewood dependency and charcoal production for cooking is causing severe national deforestation and local climate change; key contributor to flooding disasters in Malawi.

The Government of Malawi is dedicated to expanding rural electrification through the Malawi Rural Electrification Programme fund. Phase 8 of the fund (2015-current) is expected to electrify 336 trading centres at an estimated cost of MWK 30 billion (c. 90,000,000 MWK per trading centre). The Government of Malawi recognises the nation grid is over-loaded. This (combined with the particular socio-economic circumstances of Malawi) means that community-based decentralised energy projects are likely to continue to be a key development priority of the Government of Malawi within future energy policy.

The Government of Malawi is expected to implement a District Energy Officer role to support energy sector decentralisation (expected in all 28 Malawi districts by 2022).

The aim of the recommendations paper is to:

  • make recommendations as to the roles and responsibilities of the DEO
  • offer advice on how to mitigate key risks within the roll out of the DEO programme

The recommendations paper proposes the roll-out of a networks of high impact DEOs working within the existing district and central government structures to ultimately serve the community.

If developed sensitively and effectively (and resourced appropriately) the implementation of DEOs in Malawi could help to strengthen levels of community ownership and empowerment. The recommendations paper confirms the Government of Malawi’s proposal, that the introduction of an effective DEO programme will assist the Government in decentralisation of its national renewable energy strategy while aligning renewable electricity development with key national energy use targets (20% of national energy generation from renewable energy sources and a reduction of 22% in biomass usage by 2025).

The support structure and accountability structure outlined in the recommendations paper can be used to empower rural communities in Malawi to take ownership of their energy sources and their energy use, primarily through design and support of community based development. DEOs can act to improve community livelihoods through an increase in local earning potential and co-constructively act to improve national energy security and poverty alleviation across all districts of Malawi.

The main output is a Malawi District Energy Officer Blueprint: Recommendations Paper which you are invited to read here:

Malawi District Energy Officer Blueprint: Recommendations Paper

In addition, supporting documentation can be found here: