IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - July/August 2014 - 28

figure 1. Rural electrification in Mali (photo courtesy of
Jörg Peters and Marek Harsdorff).

of these areas in developing countries. apart from the benefits related to the improvement of the living conditions, the
potential benefits include 1) socioeconomic, 2) sociopolitical, and 3) environmental benefits (see Table 1).
The linkages between the improvement of the living conditions of rural communities, sustainable socioeconomic
development, and appropriate rural energy services, particularly electricity, have long been debated, but it is now generally accepted that they are critical. The opportunity to apply
modern processes and to use advanced telecommunication
facilities promotes the productivity of rural industries and
the marketing of products. There is a growing understanding
that electricity used for productive applications is equally
or sometimes even more important because of its positive
effects on local employment and income generation for the
poor. Planning and funding of the electrification program

table 1. Potential benefits of electrification.
Socioeconomic Benefits
✓

Improvement of economic productivity in
industry and agriculture through deployment of
modern and efficient processes (e.g., cooling and
ventilation)

✓

Stimulus to economic activity in the service sector,
including small-scale enterprises.

Sociopolitical Benefits
✓

Improvement of living conditions (including
education, health care, and gender equality)

✓

Improved accessibility through telecommunication
facilities

✓

Stimulus for entrepreneurs and middle class to stay
in area

✓

Enhanced societal stability.

Environmental and Health Benefits
✓

28

Fuel switch for lighting: safer and often cheaper.

ieee power & energy magazine

should therefore be based on the entire potential consumer
base, taking the development objectives into account.
in the past, many socioeconomic benefits of rural electrification were considered intangible, not to mention
unquantifiable, and were not taken into account. The focus
was therefore mainly on such programs' efficiencies and
effectiveness. But recent economic and social impact studies in Bangladesh, namibia, the Philippines, Uganda, and
other countries have revealed, in monetary terms, the benefits of modern energy services-in particular, electricity.
The studies applied the willingness-to-pay method and took
many parameters into account, such as better lighting, communication facilities, increased productivity, entertainment,
food preservation, fuel savings, health, and even emissions.
in the Philippines, for example, a total benefit of Us$80-150
per month was found when an average rural household was
provided with electricity, taking all economic and social
benefits into account. for a UneP-reed-supported, gridconnected small hydropower project in honduras, a life
cycle benefits/cost ratio of 2.2 has been found. These observations confirm that the electrification of rural and remote
areas can be seen as socially and politically important.
Because of its versatility and increasing pervasiveness,
electricity thus plays a key role in development, and there
is no doubt that well-designed and effectively implemented
electrification programs provide substantial benefits to rural
people. access to electricity is an essential but not sufficient
condition for socioeconomic development, however: rural
markets and adequate credit facilities are equally important for rural industrialization. To fully achieve its promised
socioeconomic benefits, electrification must be planned as
one component of a rural development program, in combination with other infrastructure services.

The Global Electrification Challenge
The World Energy Outlook 2013 of the international energy
agency (iea) states that access to electricity is still lacking for
some 1.3 billion people-some 20% of the world's population,
located mostly in asia and sub-saharan africa. most of these
people live in rural and remote areas of the developing world
and are poor (see Table 2). another 1 billion people are served
by unreliable power supplies characterized by unplanned
power outages, massive losses, and low power quality.
in the past few decades, the donor community, development banks, the private sector, nongovernmental organizations (ngos), and other organizations have developed and
implemented a number of initiatives to help improve modern
energy supplies to deprived regions in the developing world.
it is extremely difficult to calculate, on a global scale, the
growth during the last decades of the number of people with
access to electricity. a rough estimate reveals that about
1.5 billion people have been provided with electricity of one
form or another over the past 25 years.
But if we proceed with the "electricity business as usual,"
as many as 1.4 billion people will still lack access in 2030.
july/august 2014



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - July/August 2014

IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - July/August 2014 - Cover1
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IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - July/August 2014 - Cover3
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