Tucson, AZ Dec. 14, 1999 SolarQuest® iNet News Service
When speaking of Africa, most likely one is used to hearing names such as Nigeria, Kenya, Sudan, Egypt, and others which have received publicity in one fashion or another. It becomes very easy to lose some of the smaller countries in the shuffle when it comes to world relations, politics and relief efforts. The small country known as Malawi is however making great strides in its efforts to get affordable and dependable energy sources to its people. The U.S. Africa Energy Ministers Conference is providing a means to accomplish this. Harry W. Chitenje, Principal Energy Officer is the right hand man to the Minister of Energy for this country.
Malawi is a small country with a population of about 9 million people. Ninety-three percent of its energy comes from biomass; seven percent comes from commercial energy sources produced form hydropower. Only four percent of the population has access to and less than 1% has access to electric power.
“The government has implemented programs to increase the areas reached with power, this conference will help because many of the countries share experiences that can help other countries.” Said Chitenje. “It will expand efforts particularly for rural populations. Various sources like coal are used in the industrial sector as opposed to biomass used in households.” Biomass causes deforestation and affects agricultural production potential. “Our natural resources are being depleted at an enormous rate.” Said Chitenje. Steps taken to improve the situation include addressing scarcity of energy to rural populations. Affordability is a big issue. Mr. Chitenje expects the accessibility of energy to increase from 4% to 10 or 20% by the year 2010. “Whatever is to transpire depends on what the country itself has implemented. We must become as marketable as possible, perhaps the conference will help bring this about.”