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To what extent is an increased supply of more reliable electricity likely to be used by the poor?

Even if electricity is available, poor households need to be able to afford connection costs and buy and use sufficient electricity to alleviate their poverty. These were big issues in the 1980s and remain a problem with rural electrification projects today. Once connected, usage depends on ownership of appliances as diverse as lights, mobile phones, televisions, radios, fridges, water pumps, sewing machines or machinery. Because of the costs involved, however, most poor households use electricity only for lighting, severely limiting potential benefits. As incomes rise, more diverse uses are introduced (e.g. mobile charging, television and radio use) but the use of electricity for productive activities (e.g. in agriculture, industrial or service sectors) remains rare. As a result, the income generating effect of electricity remains low, which in turn contributes to poor people’s inability to afford electricity.

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Determinants of electricity demand for newly electrified low-income African households
K. Louwa; B. Conradie; M. Howells; M. Dekenahd / Elsevier 2008
Access to clean, affordable and appropriate energy is an important enabler of development. Energy allows households to meet their most basic subsistence needs; it is a central feature of all the millennium development goals (MDGs) and...
Power and people: the benefits of renewable energy in Nepal
S.G. Banerjee; A. Singh; H. Sammad / World Bank 2011
In Nepal, a large section of the rural population has no access to an electricity supply. Sixty three percent of households instead rely on oil-based or renewable energy. This report looks at the work of the Alternative Energy Promoti...
Can the urban poor afford modern energy? The case of Ethiopia
B. Kebedea; A. Bekeleb; E. Kedirc / Elsevier 2002
This article compares the costs of using modern fuels and purchasing power of people living in poverty in urban Ethiopia. The three forms of energy considered are: kerosene, butane gas and electricity. The study examines the affordabi...
What are the major barriers to increased use of modern energy services among the world’s poorest people and are interventions to overcome these effective?
J. Watson; R. Byrne; M. Morgan Jones / Collaboration for Environmental Evidence 2012
This systematic review was commissioned by Department for International Development (DFID) in the UK and published by the Collaboration for Environmental Evidence (CEE). It aims to answer the questions, as part of a drive for evidence...
The Welfare Impact of Rural Electrification: A Reassessment of the Costs and Benefits
World Bank 2008
While there are widespread claims that electrification greatly improves quality of life for rural households, coverage rates remain low in many countries across the world. This report explores World Bank lending for rural electrificat...