[Problem]: Solar Consulting Malawi - Current Energy solutions & why Solar is needed - July 2018

Cian Murphy
Cian Murphy | 7 months ago | in Solar Consulting

Electricity access in Malawi is very limited, meaning that few have access to basic lighting and charging facilities

-          The current solutions employed by the rural Malawian population are expensive, ineffective and time consuming

-          Average weekly and yearly expenditure determined from our surveys

In Malawi 90% of the population is not connected to the electrical grid, and those who are experience regular cut outs due to a lack of sufficient power being generated to match the needs of the population, meaning that the clear majority of the population are forced to look to other solutions for basic energy needs such as lighting and device charging

Through the energy teams surveying of people in the villages within Nancholi it has been found that the problem of no access to, or inconsistent electrical lighting is currently primarily resolved using candles, with 91% of people surveyed using candles for lighting and 71% using candles exclusively for lighting. The remainder use torches and paraffin lamps for lighting needs.  

This solution is expensive, as candles cost on average MWK 100 each and only last for one or two nights at most. In addition to this the light provided by candles is also unable to create adequate lighting for an entire household. This is clearly a major pain point for people as none of the people that have been surveyed have expressed satisfaction with their current lighting methods.

Students particularly expressed their dissatisfaction with the lighting provided by candles in one of the June team’s community meetings, stating that the poor light hindered their ability to study and do homework in the evening. This is a major pain point among the people surveyed as the majority of them have children in school and wish for them to achieve the best possible results.

From the same surveys the team learned that charging phones also poses a problem to community members due to either a lack of connection to ESCOM or inconsistent electricity from ESCOM. This issue is currently being resolved using barbershops, which also function as charging stations, or by waiting for ESCOM electricity to turn back on. The use of charging stations creates another cost on the user, with the average cost of charging a phone being MWK 100 at least twice a week.

The energy team have established the following information through surveying of the community in Nancholi.

-          Candles cost on average MWK 100 each

-          The average family buys one to two candles per day

-          The average weekly expenditure on lighting is MWK 700-1000

-          Charging phones in a barbershop costs MWK 100

-          The average person charges their phone 2-3 times per week

-          This amounts to at least MWK 200 extra per week

-          Using these figures, the average community member in Nancholi spends                        MWK 46,800-62,400 per year on these basic energy needs

-          The GNI in Malawi is MWK 110,000, meaning that this cost constitutes a huge                proportion of a person’s yearly income

Additionally, these solutions require people to take time out of their days to walk to the market, or to wait for electrical energy to resume flowing, reducing the number of hours that can be spent being productive and potentially generating income.

All told the current energy solutions used by the villagers in Nancholi are expensive, inefficient and ineffective in fulfilling their function and inhibit locals from using their time productively, inhibiting them from thriving and serving to continue the cycle of poverty in this amazing country.


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edited on 13th September 2018, 06:09 by Justin Hakeem

Wade Tink 7 months ago

Great post Cian with strong relevant detail however the analysis you have brought to this is based around defining the 'problem', not the 'customer segment'. Customer segment is to have information clearly detailing the customers characteristics without considering their problems.
I've attached a screenshot of some customer archetype templates.

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Wade Tink 7 months ago

Status label added: Idea/Concept Not Complete

Adjust as per^^

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Wade Tink 6 months ago

Status label added: Problem

Status label removed: Idea/Concept Not Complete

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Wade Tink 6 months ago

Great analysis of the problem with good detail. How many people within your customer segment have you engaged with to validate the problem as you describe?

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Ella Grier 1 month ago

Status label removed: Problem

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