A Malawi-Scotland "Eigg-change"

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With thanks to the Arkleton Trust three colleagues Morton Kaunda, Edgar Bayani and Harriet Chiwaula from our sister organisation Community Energy Malawi have spent the last week in Scotland on a learning exchange visit.

The main focus of their trip was to learn from the community-owned and operated mini-grid on the Isle of Eigg, as systems such as these have massive potential in a country like Malawi where less than 10% of the population have access to mains electricity.  

Before embarking on their journey to Eigg our colleagues were able to attend the All Energy conference in Glasgow where a raffle was held by Community Energy Scotland in support of their work. We had some great prizes on offer donated to us by Triodos bank, Hilton Coylumbridge, Bruce Stevenson Insurance Brokers, Judith Patten, Scotland Malawi Partnership and Sealladh na Beinne Mòire community company. All in all we managed to raise a total of £1000 at the event which will allow Community Energy Malawi to purchase and distribute a large batch of solar lanterns to rural areas of the country where the lighting systems are most needed.

In addition to meeting various organisations and speaking at All Energy our colleagues were also able to meet with the Scottish Government, Scotland Malawi Partnership Business, Trade and Investment group members and the University of Strathclyde before they set off for Eigg. A very busy few days indeed!

Harriet, Morton and Edgar were joined on their trip to Eigg by Community Energy Scotland Development Manager, Georgy Davis and Steve Evison, board member of the Arkleton Trust. Georgy had been based in Malawi whilst managing the Community Energy Development Programme and knew the Eigg islanders from her time as Development Officer for the Skye, Lochalsh and Lochaber area.  Steve was keen to learn from the trip and consider how the Arkleton Trust could increase its impact.

The team first of all met with Maggie Fyffe from the Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust, who gave a background overview of the community land buy out of the island and the Trusts now thriving operations. It was then on to the Eigg Primary school, who are twinned with a school in Malawi, to meet with staff and pupils. The school that Eigg is twinned with has recently been affected by severe flooding and so the pupils at Eigg Primary School are currently raising funds which will allow the school in Malawi to buy food.  The pupils had lots of interesting questions for the Malawian delegation and were even treated to a rendition of the national anthem of Malawi!

The next day was spent with island resident John Booth who was the Project Manager for the Trust during installation of the islands mini-grid. John explained the system, its installation process and the issues that arose during the course of the project, before taking the team round to see the wind, solar and hydro developments on the island together with Eddie who is part of Eigg Electrics maintenance team.

There were many questions answered by John and Eddie during the course of the day and much thought given as to what key lessons can be taken back to Malawi. The team are now in the process of writing a report on their trip to Scotland which will be available soon.

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Community Energy Scotland, Highlands and Islands Social Enterprise Zone, 67A Castle Street, Inverness IV2 3DU
Registered Scottish Charity (No. SC039673), and company limited by guarantee, registered in Scotland (No. SC333698)
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