History of CEM
We started our operations in 2011 as Community Energy Development Programme (CEDP). This was a strand of the Scottish Government funded Malawi Renewable Energy Acceleration Programme (MREAP). It was line managed by Community Energy Scotland (CES). As CEDP, our focus was on developing practical models of increasing access to sustainable energy sources for the last mile. The programme had three streams being:
CEDP1: Community Energy Support Toolkit and Network
CEDP2: Strategic Community Energy Projects
CEDP3: Community Renewable Funding Facility
Our work was piloted in 12 Communities under 12 CBOs in the 12 districts of Chitipa, Mzimba, Likoma, Nkhotakota, Dowa, Ntchisi, Lilongwe, Balaka, Machinga, Neno, Phalombe and Nsanje. During this period, the Scottish Government, Community Energy Scotland, University of Strathclyde, Department of Energy (Malawi) and UNDP among others, offered financial and technical support to CEDP. A total of 46 Projects comprising solar PVs installations, cook stoves production and 9 solar lantern social enterprises were successfully implemented in these areas reaching a total of 20,439 beneficiaries. Among others, the process evaluation of the programme revealed that following installation of PVs on a Health Centre, 378 healthy babies were born in a conducive environment. 465 Solar Lanterns of various sizes were sold. For educational attainment, the overall trend is that performance in the examinations is gradually improving in CEDP-targeted schools and that lighting does make a difference to a teacher’s job satisfaction. CEDP has modestly supported the country’s push for improved cook stoves nationwide by setting up producer groups and selling 325 cook stoves in the first 6 months.
In summation, the evaluation report, observes that CEDP projects have contributed to building human capital improvements in terms of health, education, knowledge and skills. Solar PV installations in educational institutions and solar water pumps have produced the greatest increase in social capital through improvements in trust, decision making and leadership. Solar PV installations and solar lanterns also increased the network and connection assets through mobile phone charging facilities. Cook stove projects singularly contributed to the increase in natural assets of forestry and both solar lanterns and cook stoves provided immediate benefits to levels of financial capital in terms of savings and access to credit.
CEM is a product of this good work and was established on the vision of the Strategic Energy Partners (SEPs) under the MREAP. These are Concern Universal, Mulanje Renewable Energy Agency (MUREA), Community Energy Scotland (CES), Mzuzu University and UoM Polytechnic’s WASHTED Centre. This was after a scoping study conducted by University of Strathclyde (UoS), Project Managers of MREAP and other organisations, which among others revealed that the absence of a strong network of renewable energy players affects the development of the community energy sector in Malawi.