Energy Access in Rural Malawi

Impact: Impact - for External PortalEconomic and commerce, Environment and sustainability - natural world and built environment, Health and welfare - new products, guidelines and services, Quality of life and safety, Education, Policy and legislation, Public understanding, information and debate

Who is affected

At many levels from Community to Academia to Government, MREAP has been a catalyst for the use of renewable energy to improve the lives of Malawians, particularly the rural poor.  Nearly 80,000 now have improved access to energy services as a result of MREAP.  In a country where less than 1% of the rural population has access to electricity, this is a transformational change.  A light in the home, in a school and at a health centre may seem basic but it is, in fact, a critical first step for improved livelihoods for families, improved education for young pupils, and better care for new mothers and babies. MREAP with its network of dedicated partners have touched the lives of many communities throughout 16 districts in Malawi.  We have empowered communities to own and manage projects. We have created a momentum in the Government of Malawi’s Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Environment and the Department of Energy Affairs who lead the energy policy development; MREAP has demonstrated the potential benefits community energy can provide.  Academic institutions in Malawi are training communities on the use of renewable energy, how to manage projects, and how to keep them sustainable.  A new Masters in Philosophy in Renewable Energy degree has been created under MREAP and 13 students are on track to finish their studies in 2015.  The MPhil programme is the first of its kind in Malawi and is a fundamental building block towards improving the research and leadership capacity in the country; these students will be the next generation of leaders in their field.   MREAP has produced a wealth of knowledge on highly relevant subjects such as the process of setting up sustainable off-grid renewable energy projects in Malawi,feasibility for commercial scale wind, gaps and challenges in sustainability of off-grid solar PV projects, and produced a multi-language toolkit to help communities get a start for themselves. The ambitions of Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) in Malawi cannot hope to be achieved with projects operating in isolation or disconnected from the enabling environment within the country. MREAP has shown that integration of project deployment, capacity building, institutional support, and knowledge creation can be complementary and accelerate the process of change.


The Scottish Government commissioned a Scoping Study on Supporting Community Energy Development in Malawi in 2011 and the outcomes of that pointed to different programme activities that the Scottish Government might support. Those recommendations have been taken forward in the form of the Malawi Renewable Energy Acceleration Programme (MREAP). MREAP is managed by the University of Strathclyde, has eight main partners, is governed by a Programme Steering Group (co-chaired by the Government of Malawi Department of Energy Affairs and the University of Strathclyde) and was funded to the sum of £2.3m.
MREAP's four main strands are 1) Community Energy Development, 2) Institutional Support, 3) Capacity Building, 4) Wind Energy Preparation.

Category of impact

  • Economic and commerce
  • Environment and sustainability - natural world and built environment
  • Health and welfare - new products, guidelines and services
  • Quality of life and safety
  • Education
  • Policy and legislation
  • Public understanding, information and debate
  1. 2015 Malawi Renewable Energy Symposium

    Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference

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