Over the last two decades, decentralised renewable energy (DRE) systems have enabled faster access to reliable energy services for communities across Asia and Africa. Development Finance Institutions and national governments are actively developing policies around mini-grids and accelerating their deployment as part of rural electrification plans. There is an urgency to research and collate both practice and learning that ensures the long-term sustainability of these systems. While the technical and financial factors affecting the operational sustainability of rural mini-grids in developing countries are comparatively well-researched, the social and institutional aspects critical for longer-term sustainability are relatively under-researched and form the basis of this paper.
This briefing paper builds on studies of mini-grids in Kenya and in Bangladesh to illustrate the relevance of community governance in the deployment and management of DRE systems in underserved and off-grid regions of the Global South. Mini grids are highly dependent on community cooperation and good governance mechanisms to succeed. Understanding this role of local institutions is a pertinent challenge because, despite recent developments in the mini-grid sector, pro-poor, operationally sustainable and easily replicable approaches for mini-grid-based rural electrification remain difficult to find. This understanding holds considerable promise in connecting knowledge gained from both community-based and private-sector mini-grid operation.
This is the first of a series of Briefing Papers published by the Low Carbon Energy for Development Network
Gollwitzer, L. Cloke, J., Lessons from Collective Action for the Local Governance of Mini-Grids for Pro-Poor Electricity Access, Low Carbon Energy for Development Network (LCEDN) Briefing Paper 1, LCEDN, Loughborough.
Lessons from collective action for the local governance of mini-grids for pro-poor electricity access: briefing paper 1