Enhancing Governance, Advocacy, Growth, And Energy In Dedza (Engaged) Programme District Energy Audit

Project: Consultancy by University

Project Details


Concern Universal secured funding through Irish Aid to implement the Enhancing Governance, Advocacy, Growth, and Energy in Dedza (ENGAGED) Programme, which aims to contribute to attainment of a strong evidence-based foundation for future programming and increased resilience and improved wellbeing in Dedza district, Malawi. The energy audit contained in this report is one of the specific objectives of ENGAGED to undertake a wide range of TA and district-level social, economic, livelihood and vulnerability assessments. A multidisciplinary research methodology was employed utilising a variety of data collection and analysis tools including a literature review, surveys conducted for household, business and facilities in 4 TAs across Dedza, focus group discussions and expert interviews. Recommendations have been given for interventions CU can undertake to achieve low carbon energy access across the district of Dedza.

Layman's description

An energy audit of a district in Malawi has been undertaken to give recommendations for NGO interventions to reduce poverty through implementation of renewable energy projects.

Key findings

Context: Energy Access in Malawi
Energy access is an enabling factor for human development (UNDP), however access to national electricity grid in Malawi is currently just 9.8% and only 7.2% of the population has access to modern cooking fuel (SE4All, 2016). Lighting and cooking needs of most Malawians are served by traditional, carbon-based sources of energy such as charcoal and wood for cooking and paraffin, candles and non-rechargeable batteries for lighting. The Malawi National Energy Policy acknowledge these facts and contain policies to tackle the challenges. Emphasis to date has been on grid extension with little focus on the fact that 98% of the country’s energy supply come from biomass. Major donors such as DFID and Irish Aid are conducting nationwide initiatives to increase energy access in a low carbon manor, the ENGAGED program is one of these.

Dedza: Overview
Poverty levels in Dedza range between 70% - 99% of the population living under $2/day, it has a low life expectancy (45.4) and very high fertility rate (5.8). The majority of household incomes are below 20,000 MKW per month and most businesses earn a monthly income of less than 500,000 MKW per month. Although not mentioned specifically in the Dedza District Development Plan, energy links in to each of the key development issues outlined in the District Development Planning Framework (DDPF). The main challenges affecting communities in Dedza include lack of capital to start businesses, lack of good sources of drinking water, lack of infrastructure, and availability and affordability of agricultural inputs. Unpredictable rainfall patterns and lack of agricultural extension workers are resulting in communities realizing little agricultural produce, and selling them at low prices. Energy issues although relevant, are not as high priority compared with the issues described above.

Energy Use in Dedza Overview
Household Rural Businesses Facility
Average Income below 20,000 MKW/m below 500,000 MKW/m N/A
Primary Energy Use (ordered) Firewood, Dry cell batteries, candles, charcoal, paraffin Dry cell batteries, Firewood, candles, charcoal, paraffin Grid, SHS, batteries
PSP ownership 5% 18% 2%
SHS ownership 2.5% 13% 24%
12V Battery ownership 3.5% 16% 2%
Main appliances (ordered) Radios, stereo, TV Radio, TV, Stereo, computer, fridge Radio, water pump, fridge, TV
• Batteries and candles are the most common energy source for lighting, paraffin use and diesel generator use is low in the district
• Ownerships of appliances is low although radios are common
• The main fuel type for cooking is wood, followed by crop residue and plant biomass, charcoal, straw, shrubs and grass.
• Facilities struggle to pay for maintenance of energy systems, suggesting that energy interventions should focus on income generating activities to create maintenance funds to ensure system sustainability.
• At facilities, “energy”, “power” or “solar energy” were mentioned as the second highest priority that needs urgent funding, the highest being Infrastructure. 42 % of the facilities indicated that their current level of electricity limits the services which they offer.
• A variety of energy interventions have been carried out in Dedza by a number of NGOs including: PSP distribution, stove dissemination, co-management approach to forestry, various forestry management programs and a briquette making operation.

Grid Connection
MAREP is currently implementing phase 8 of their electrification program, and as part of it Dedza will get 4 new trading centre electrified, with other potential customers or trading centres connected if they are in the vicinity and can afford the connection cost. Only a small proportion of the district is currently served by the grid, with the plains to the West and the mountains to the North unlikely to gain a grid connection in the near future. Even areas in the vicinity of the grid lines have high populations that are not connected to the grid due to lack of purchasing power to afford the initial connection.

Solar Energy use in Dedza
• Solar PV Equipment being used but not widespread (See figures in table above)
• 13% of businesses interviewed are selling solar products, 31% indicated they would be interested in selling RE equipment, and 28% said customers had been asking about them.
• A variety of solar PV products are available in Dedza town from shop keepers, mostly cheap products with no certification or no warrantee.
• Solar products are unaffordable for most communities, however they’re perceived to help improve performance of school children, and deemed economical with no ongoing costs
• Different business models for deploying PSP have been used in Malawi and could be replicated in Dedza, including direct sales, rental or Rent to Own and Pay as You Go, The main challenges are in access to capital and finding entrepreneurs willing to take a risk on upfront purchasing. PSP projects are more likely to be successful if initial training is conducted in the villages

Charcoal, Firewood, and Stoves
• There are a large number of charcoal producers operating in Dedza. With little regulation on charcoal trade, producers operate in the forests and hills around the communities, and charcoal is sold at the trading centers.
• Firewood is sold in communities at a price of 500 MWK a bundle, which has been increasing due to increased travel distances to source it.
• Poverty forces communities into charcoal and firewood production, as it does not require starting capital. People would be willing to engage in other businesses if opportunities were available.
• The Chitetezo Mbaula is the most common improved cook stove (ICS) manufactured in Dedza which has advantages which include simple manufacturing, using less fire wood compared to alternatives, helping to keep food warm, producing less smoke and saving time.
• Learning how to make ICS has improved producer’s lives, as they are able to earn an income and spend more time with their families.
• It is mostly women in groups who are involved in the manufacturing of the ICS, however the community (especially men) have received these stoves well and they can now help women with cooking.
• Woodlots were highlighted as a viable business in Dedza, more so for selling timber than firewood, and that lives have improved economically as a result woodlots.
• There is an identified need for government and NGOs to be involved with such woodlot groups, especially to provide training and advice.
• The responsibility of forestry lies both at the district (through forestry officers) and local level (through Village Development Committees).
• Forestry challenges identified included: water shortages, lack of bylaws, lake of stakeholder coordination, lack of awareness or engagement by communities, and lack of ownership, co-management, and the willingness of the communities to protect the forest and limits in the capacity of the local structures and capacity of extension services/workers.

Influencing Parameters on Energy Interventions
There are Local Capacity gaps in RE knowledge and experience limiting the development of RE, and there is a need for training courses to happen in rural villages to build local capacity. Perception and Awareness and general knowledge of RE is very low, and there is a big need to sensitize rural people on the use of new technologies. Challenges for previous RE Projects were identified as: Technical (poor quality products and transport network), financial (a lack of purchasing power or loans, inflation, devaluation of Kwatcha) and institutional (lack of collaboration between regulators, government, and NGO’s). Examples of Good Projects included ownership being key and a requirement for sufficient plans for maintenance of systems

Energy Resources in Dedza
The wind resource is generally low in the East and West of the district (2-3 m/s at 12m, 3m/s at 30m), but is slightly higher in the centre of the district to the West of the Dedza escarpment (3-4 m/s at 12m, 4-5m/s at 30m). Seasonally, the solar and wind resources follow a similar pattern, further reducing the argument for including wind turbines as part of solar/wind hybrid systems. Due to the high variability and small areas of worthwhile resource, wind power is less viable as a technology in Dedza
There is generally a good solar resource in Dedza, with Global Horizontal Irradiance values ranging from 4.5 – 6 kWh/m2/day across the district. The lowest solar resource can be found to the East and West of Dedza town whereas the highest is found in TA Kachindamoto close to Lake Malawi. Seasonal analysis found that the resource is lower in the winter months (May to July) and highest in November. Solar technology is suitable for Dedza, although the investigation of seasonal load profiles are recommended.
Of the land cover In Dedza, 30% is currently forested, 48% is Agriculture and 22% is settlement and lake, and land tenure systems are either customary land, private land (leasehold) or government/public land. Forest reserves cover an estimated area of 92,740 ha (26% of total land area) and include: Dedza Mountain, Mua-livulezi, Changoni, and Dzalanyama forestry reserves, while customary land forests cover an estimated area of 34,421 ha (9% of total land area). A map outlining tree cover extent, loss and gain for 2000 -2013 shows that Dedza is experiencing high deforestation at an estimated rate of 2.8%, highest in 2012 in Chongoini (48.4 ha) Mua-Livulezi (49.3 ha) and Dzalanyama (39.7 ha) due to their respective locations close to the M1, attributed to charcoal manufacturers travelling from Lilongwe setting up illegal charcoal kilns. The government and implementing partners embarked on Afforestation programmes with a total of 3,876,828 trees planted in 2011/12, the highest by Village Natural Resource Committees (1,743,559 trees) and Forestry Clubs (1,488,000 trees). Some signs of tree planting resulting in the regeneration of forests is visible from the loss/gain map, in the Changoni reserve, however this is extremely small compared to the reported loss of forest.
Dedza is awarded an average of 1109.8 mm of rainfall per year, with the driest weather in August and the wettest weather in January. There has been high rainfall variability over the past three decades, with periods of excessively high rainfall as well as extremely little rainfall. Both excess and limited rainfall can affect hydro systems negatively, as they depend on reliable rainfall throughout the year based on design resource assessment of the river flow, which is directly affected by rainfall. GIS mapping of all perennial rivers in Dedza was performed. For each river a slope analysis was conducted to determine the slope as a % for each section of river, and a visual inspection of the vicinity of settlements to the perennial rivers. Areas with high slope in the vicinity to settlements were selected, and for each river selected a profile analysis was completed, charting the slope over the distance, from which the head can be estimated. Indicative results show that there exists a head resource in Dedza (the largest being 900m over 30km), but that there are very few settlements close to the rivers present. It is likely that flow resources exist to power small micro-hydro schemes, but more research is required to quantify the exact flow and associated energy available. An identified risk relates to flow resources being erratic due to climate change and likely to reduce in the future due to deforestation and siltation of the rivers.

Key Recommendations
Technology choice recommendations given based on scoring system ratings on Scalability, Appropriateness to local resource, Affordability, Level of access offered, and CU capacity to implement. Based on this methodology, it is recommended that CU focus their primary implementation programmes on ICS and PSP, with secondary implementation advised to be in Forestry Interventions, Institutional Solar, and Solar Irrigation. Pilot projects should be conducted, primarily in Solar Home Systems and Productive Uses of Solar, secondarily in Solar Cooking and Solar Kiosks. Primary feasibility studies are recommended in Briquette Making, Sustainable Charcoal Kilns, Micro Hydro power and Solar Minigrids, with secondary feasibility studies conducted in Thermal Electric Generators, Biogas, and Wind Turbines. The technologies below have been listed in order of priority for interventions. Technology overview, SWOT analysis and specific recommendations for each are given in full in report.

Improved Cook Stoves
Pico Solar Products
Forestry Interventions
Institutional Solar
Solar Irrigation
Productive Use of Solar PV
Solar Home Systems
Solar Cooking
Solar Kiosks
Sustainable Charcoal Kilns
Hydro Power
Solar Minigrids
Thermal Electric Generators
Wind Turbines

Short titleEnergy Audit of Dedza District, Malawi
Effective start/end date1/12/151/09/16


  • Malawi
  • Energy Audit
  • Renewable Energy


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