Malawi Clean Energy Cooperatives Program

Objective: Develop Viable Community-Owned Electric Cooperatives 

With funding support from the U.S. Agency for International Development, NRECA International is implementing the Malawi Clean Energy Cooperatives Program (CECP), a four-year initiative to promote the development of five new clean energy cooperative enterprises in rural Malawi.

Goals and Outcomes 

  • Demonstrate how electric co-ops can support self-reliance in rural communities.
  • Establish reliable and affordable electricity service to support improved productivity in communities with newly formed co-ops.
  • Introduce the electric co-op business model as a to contribute to the expansion of electricity service in rural communities.

Principal Acitivites

  • Develop a portfolio of electric cooperative projects for evaluation and implementation
  • Build technical capacity in communities through community engagement, develop business plans, and secure financing for infrastructure.
  • Provide ongoing technical support to cooperatives from formation to operations phase.
  • Establish a working alliance with the Ministry of Energy team to promote the electric co-op model.
  • Review and evaluate legal and regulatory framework for electric cooperative formation, registration, licensing and oversight.


  • USAID Cooperative Development Program
  • Malawi Ministry of Energy


The Government of Malawi is committed to achieving universal electrification by 2030. The country has a population of nearly 21 million, of which almost 4 million people, or 17 percent, have access to electricity. Currently, 550,000 households receive electricity from ESCOM, the national power transmission and distribution utility, and approximately 200,000 households have purchased solar home systems. Recognizing that additional pathways are needed to achieve universal access, in 2018 the Government adopted a national electrification strategy.

The Cooperative Advantage

Rural electric cooperatives are owned by the communities they serve and operate under the universally accepted Seven Cooperative Principles. Cooperative incentives and measurements for success are not driven by profitability, but rather quality of service, reliability, and sustainability. Using this model in rural and hard-to-reach communities can be a strong advantage for achieving long-term reliable and affordable electricity. 

NRECA International has helped establish more than 250 electric utilities and cooperatives in 48 countries, empowering more than 160 million people worldwide. Our organization was founded in 1962 when the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and the newly-established USAID signed an inaugural cooperative agreement to share lessons learned in the electrification of the rural United States with developing countries around the world. 

For More Information

Ben Smith
CECP Project Director