New Report Says Off-Grid Systems Can Solve Energy Poverty in Rural Areas
“A quarter of the world’s population—or 1.3 billion people—lack access to electricity. Close to 85 percent of those without electricity live in rural areas and 87 percent are geographically concentrated in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.”
In a recently published report supported by The Rockefeller Foundation, Accenture Development Partnerships assessed the suitability of off-grid energy systems in seven Asian and African countries, revealed that with the right environmental conditions and business model, de-centralized power can play a role in helping communities overcome the issue of energy access.
The assessment finds that both supportive and inhibitive country characteristics are affecting the viability of de-centralized mini-grid solutions. It goes into detail about the environmental conditions for mini-grids in each country, the relative viability of entry into each country, and an overview of the key learnings taken across the assessment. The geographies selected were Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria, and Ghana.
A quarter of the world’s population—or 1.3 billion people—lack access to electricity. Close to 85 percent of those without electricity live in rural areas and 87 percent are geographically concentrated in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. The lack of access to reliable electricity is a great hindrance of development, limiting people’s ability to enhance their incomes, improve food security, educate their children, and access key information services. It is a major barrier to achieving a more inclusive economy and to building the resilience of poor or vulnerable populations.
The issue of access is not unknown to national governments and there are many programs in place to extend grids to the rural areas where access to electricity is at its lowest. However, with so many people to connect, a pure focus on nationally-led grid extension is not necessarily the proper solution, particularly in remote or low population density areas that are costly to reach. To fill this gap, what are needed are economical, commercially viable and scalable de-centralized energy solutions able to provide electricity to those lacking access, ultimately driving economic and social development.
Since 2010, The Rockefeller Foundation undertook the Smart Power for Rural Development initiative, which aims to address the basic needs of poor and vulnerable populations who lack access to electricity and spur economic development in rural India. The assessment report builds off the lessons learned in India over the past four years, to explore the expansion of the model to new countries.