This article presents new empirical research on what it takes to provide enduring access to affordable, reliable and useful electricity services for all. We analyze and synthesize the long-term experiences with three different systems for village-scale solar power supply in India, Senegal and Kenya. Since this scale of electricity provision forms part of village infrastructure, it requires particular types of knowledge, policies and support mechanisms. This research therefore investigates how village-scale solar systems can be designed, implemented, sustained and replicated in ways that make them accessible and useful for the community members. Drawing on a sociotechnical and practice-oriented approach, we show that the electricity system’s degree of adaptedness to its social context affects many important qualities of the system such as the relevance of the available electricity services for the people, the system’s operational and economic sustainability and the potential for replication. Achieving such adaptation notably requires a flexible approach on the part of implementers, funders and local actors before, during and after implementation. We also show the need for institutionalization of decentralized electricity provision, discuss the current ambiguities in policies, regulations and funding mechanisms for villagescale solar power, and provide recommendations to policy makers and donors.
This item's license is: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International