Access to electricity in Sub-Saharan Africa
CFIA's Kenya Hub is part of a research project with the aim to improve the understanding of sustainability, inclusiveness and governance of mini-grids (SIGMA) in general and those in sub-Saharan Africa in particular. The research team is developing an evidence base on mini-grid performance in sub-Saharan Africa. The team will also develop a framework to analyse the political economy of energy access and a sustainability framework of mini-grids in developing countries, with a special emphasis on sub-Saharan Africa. The research will entail in-depth case studies of mini-grid sustainability, inclusiveness and governance in four countries namely Nigeria, Senegal, Kenya and Tanzania. The project has been conceptualised through a collaborative process involving a team of UK-based researchers and research teams from four sub-Saharan Africa countries (namely Nigeria, Senegal, Kenya and Tanzania).
With approximately one billion people lacking access to electricity in the world, nothing short of a socio-technical transformation is required to reach the objectives of universal electrification by 2030. Sub-Saharan Africa, with more than 600 million lacking access to electricity, requires a special attention. Although off-grid and decentralised solutions are expected to play a significant role and mini-grids are assumed to be a game changer for a rapid, cost-effective, pro-poor,
universal electrification globally, the green mini-grid sector has not grown rapidly. Progress has been patchy between and within countries, across rural areas and informal urban settlements and between high and low-income communities. Among the barriers to scaling up mini-grids in Africa are lack of mini-grid specific regulatory framework, unproven business models, demand uncertainty, limited access to finance and lack of capacity.
Improve the understanding of sustainability, inclusiveness and governance of mini-grids
The main aim of this project is to improve our understanding of sustainability, inclusiveness and governance of mini-grids in general and those in sub-Saharan Africa in particular, by developing an improved evidence base and a multi-dimensional appreciation of issues and challenges that can support better decision-making for universal electrification globally.
The project has been conceptualised through a collaborative process involving a team of UK-based researchers and research teams from four sub-Saharan Africa countries (namely Nigeria, Senegal, Kenya and Tanzania).
The key research questions
The SIGMA project seeks to provide an applied and analytical approach to uncover the complex dynamics behind the challenges of installing sustainable and inclusive decentralised electricity systems. With comparative case studies from Senegal, Nigeria, Tanzania and Kenya, the key research questions in this project are as follows:
1) Which business models have succeeded to deliver financially and technically viable mini-grids in SSA?
2) Who and what have been the key beneficiaries of mini-grids in the case study countries and in what way?
3) Who drives or hinders the proliferation and the speed of adoption of mini-grids in East and West Africa?
4) What governance, regulatory and policy frameworks for decentralised systems of electricity provision exist in each case study country, how successful have they been and how do they differ?
The analytical approach sits at the intersection of human geography, development studies, engineering and sustainability transitions. The research is necessarily inter-disciplinary in order to understand complex interactions between financial, technological, political, socio-economic and cultural factors. The research team is developing a political economy framework and a sustainability framework to analyse electricity access in developing countries, with a particular focus on mini-grids.
The case studies (two from West Africa, Nigeria and Senegal and two from East Africa, Kenya and Tanzania) present fascinating grounds for comparison and have been selected on the basis of their diversity of governance models and differing levels of decentralised electricity provisions within their specific national and sub-national contexts.
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