Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining Bright Msaka says government will be upscaling the rural electrification programme and expanding solar power solutions to off-grid communities.
He said this is one of the ways of fighting against deforestation.
Figures from the Malawi Government Annual Economic Report 2016 show that Malawi’s forest cover, which stands at 30 percent, is being depleted at two percent per year.
Msaka said if this trend is not checked and proper action taken, it means the country will run out of trees in 15 years.
Most trees in the country are being cut by charcoal makers, tobacco farmers and brick makers.
Speaking in an interview last week, Msaka said the situation is being made worse because of low penetration of electricity, which is at less than 10 percent.
Said Msaka: “The most prominent drivers of deforestation include the overdependence on wood biomass for domestic energy needs, use of firewood for curing tobacco and burning bricks and the clearing of forest areas for new farm land for the ever-increasing population.”
He said the formulation of the National Charcoal Strategy, which will provide a balance between two competing realities-the need for fuel wood as a source of energy and the imperative need to re-grow and increase forests-has been completed.
Stephen Chiunjira, executive director of Our World International, an organisation that deals with environmental issues, agreed with Msaka that at the rate trees are being cut, forests will be depleted between 15 to 20 years.
“There is unprecedented wanton cutting down of trees and if we are not careful we will lose all the remaining forest cover.
“The other problem is that most of the trees that are being planted are not taken care of and end up dying,” he said.