‘Renewable energy is key to growth’
Lilongwe – Fellow of the UK Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining, earth scientist Grain Malunga says Africa must tap sustainable sources of generating electricity such as hydropower, solar and wind energy.
Malunga, who is also a Malawian MP, said this at the recent 2013 Power and Electricity World Conference in Johannesburg, South Africa.
He said, “At a time when Africa is struggling to generate enough electricity through renewable energy sources for the development of infrastructure and industry, it is crucial to invest in the development and management of hydropower in rivers using modern thinking of integrated water resources management (IWRM) where water should be managed to cater for energy, health, agriculture and biodiversity (WEHAB).”
Lecturer in Electrical Power and Machines at Malawi Polytechnic, a constituent college of the University of Malawi, Esther Phiri further noted that energy poverty increased Africa’s vulnerability to external shocks and stresses.
She said access to energy supply played an important role in socio-economic development.
“Electrical and renewable energy addresses extreme poverty and hunger, improves education and health services, empower women and improve gender equality,” Phiri said.
On the issue of renewable energy, Malunga gave the example of efforts in Malawi to develop hydropower on Bua River.
Malawi largely relies on 98 percent of its power supply on the Shire River, which provides 280MW through Nkula Hydroelectric Power Station.
Only eight percent of Malawi’s population has access to electricity (30 percent urban access, less than one percent in rural areas).
Current installed capacity is far below national requirements.
Malunga said development energy infrastructure would enhance development of mining and manufacturing, in addition to improving people’s standards of living.
The Malawi government and the World Bank have committed US$131.6 million for the Shire River Basin management to upgrade electricity output from hydroelectric plants.