IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - July/August 2014 - 41

rural electrification should be developed as a community business, ensuring more effective community
engagement and hence long-term sustainability.
✔ consider creating a ministry of rural development. given
the critical role that rural development plays in poverty
reduction, including stemming the migration from rural
areas to the cities, it seems reasonable to accord rural development a higher status in government by creating a special
ministry. this would make integrated rural development
easier to implement, delivering water, schools, hospitals,
roads, and electricity as well as shelter and sanitation.
there is no doubt that a business-as-usual approach to rural
electrification in Zambia will not deliver the very ambitious
target of 51% rural access to electricity by 2030, especially
with an annual outlay of only US$50 million. to underscore
the dearth of current expenditures on rural electrification, the
expenditure on rural electrification from January to June 2013
was only kr45 million (equivalent to US$8 million), according to the rural electrification Authority.

Challenges in Rural Electrification
the rural electrification experiences of these three countries, despite their major differences, have some elements in
common that are worth emphasizing.
rural electrification will not take place on its own unless there
is clear direction or support by the government, either in creating
the institutional framework for it to take place or in supplying the
necessary basic funding or subsidies for it to develop. this said, it
is important that the process take place without political interference and based on clear socioeconomic objectives.
the aim of rural electrification is not just to supply rural
households with basic electricity but to plan for the economic impact that electricity can have on poor communities.
electricity supply can contribute to the improvement of economic conditions, particularly if small industries and other
economic activities are able to develop. it would be of great
interest to measure and monitor the progress and impact of
rural electrification on literacy, on rural prosperity as measured by rural gdP, on progression to tertiary education, on
the quality of businesses, and so on.
organizational and governance practices in rural electrification must be carefully designed, whether the process is
executed by a state company, a private company, or a cooperative. it is important to stimulate determined and disciplined
implementation and to institute adequate oversight of good
policies. the rural electrification governance framework
must be tightened to prevent or discourage corruption in the
execution of rural electrification projects.
An integrated approach in providing rural electricity supply
must be followed, one that considers the different renewable
technologies that are becoming economically competitive and
adequately coordinates the different state and private agencies
involved in rural electrification.
Financial constraints may severely restrict rural electrification. Funding schemes must therefore be explored,
july/august 2014

developed, and prioritized so as to focus on the areas with
the greatest need. it is essential to ensure the adequate
dimensioning of required funding if one wishes to achieve
particular electrification targets. Further, it is very important to design viable business models for electrification that
take into account institutional and resource restrictions.
capacity building, in the business area as well as the technical
one, is needed. one approach would be to develop appropriate
curricula in universities and colleges that focus on the skills development and entrepreneurship necessary to support rural development, including rural electrification. international cooperation in
this field should provide support to less prepared countries. there
are many examples of organizations that have a wealth of experience in the design, implementation, and operation of various generation and grid technologies, including renewable resources such
as biomass, wind, solar, and hydro. larger organizations, such as
nrecA international in the United States, giZ in germany, and
Practical Action in the United kingdom, have implemented rural
electrification programs in many countries all over the world, with
funding from the host countries, private foundations, and bilateral
and multilateral donor organizations. it is noteworthy that only
nrecA international has supported rural electrification in more
than 42 countries, driving low-cost electrification construction
design and standards.
Finally, there is universal consensus that rural electrification
is vital for the development of rural areas in developing countries, as it was in the experience of the United States. Without
major successes in rural electrification, efforts to reduce poverty
will flounder. integrated rural development depends on a key
component: electrification.

For Further Reading
P. Wolman, "the new deal for electricity in the United States
1930-1950," in The Challenge of Rural Electrification-
Strategies for Developing Countries, d. F. Barnes, ed. rFF
Press, 2007, chap. 10, pp 259-292.
rajiv gandhi grameen Vidyutikaran Yojna. (2014). Scheme
of rural electricity infrastructure and household electrification.
[online]. rural electrification corporation ltd., india. Available: http://rggvy.gov.in/rggvy/rggvyportal/index.html
Unido/UneP/geF Project. (2013). renewable energy
based electricity generation for isolated mini-grids in Zambia. [online]. Available: http://www.unido.org/fileadmin/
media/documents/pdf/energy_environment/rre_Zambia_
factsheet.pdf

Biographies
Hugh Rudnick is with Pontificia Universidad catolica de
chile, chile.
Joseph Mutale is with the University of Manchester,
Manchester, United kingdom.
Debabrata Chattopadhyay is with with the University of
Queensland, Australia.
Robert Saint is retired from the national rural electric
p&e
cooperative Association, Arlington, Virginia.
ieee power & energy magazine

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http://rggvy.gov.in/rggvy/rggvyportal/index.html http://www.unido.org/fileadmin/

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