Originally published on the World Resources Institute website.
More than a billion people around the world still lack access to electricity; millions more receive poor and inadequate supplies. For the unserved and underserved, there can be significant implications for healthcare, food, education and business.
Author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie put it this way when explaining the effects of poor electricity in Nigeria: “I cannot help but wonder how many medical catastrophes have occurred in public hospitals because of “no light,” how much agricultural produce has gone to waste, how many students forced to study in stuffy, hot air have failed exams, how many small businesses have foundered.
Too often, planners confront this electricity access gap by increasing supply without attention to how consumers actually use and pay for electricity. A lasting solution is actually far more complicated than that.”
A new WRI paper, Strategies for Expanding Universal Access to Electricity Services for Development, proposes an approach to closing the access gap driven by the belief that electrification must respond to user demand and help improve lives. We propose three strategies for policymakers, planners and electricity service providers:
- understand electricity demand from the bottom up
- link electricity access with development priorities
- ensure electricity services are reliable, affordable and of good quality