Close to a billion of the 1.2 billion people without access to electricity services globally, reside in Sub-Saharan Africa and India. Modern advances in technology have made it possible to meet electricity needs with a wide range of options such as standalone systems and mini-grids in addition to the conventional grid. However, a poor understanding of unserved and underserved markets stands in the way of taking these solutions to those who need them and implementing them at scale.
WRI’s Energy Access Maps for India and Tanzania are interactive web-based tools that can facilitate a better understanding of unserved electricity markets. Cognizant that the factors that influence electrification decisions can vary vastly from country to country, we identify five broad parameters that influence electrification decisions in these geographies. These include the lack of access to electricity, economic buoyancy, access to finance, the extent of grid penetration (as well as access to other electrification sources such as mini-grids) and the presence of load centers such as clinics, schools and productive use activities. In each of the geographies, the interactive maps draw on the specific indicators that are of relevance.
Our interactive maps can be used by a wide range of stakeholders including entrepreneurs, policy makers, development finance institutions, philanthropies and civil society organizations to inform decision-making as they work to address the electricity access challenge. For example, for entrepreneurs, the maps can provide general pointers to regions and districts that are interesting from a private provider’s perspective; this will be those regions or districts with significant electrification gaps but relatively high economic buoyancy (hence ability to pay for services). With this information in hand, entrepreneurs can zero in on target regions and districts and conduct more detailed village level market studies that will help them tailor their products to the unique needs and characteristics of their target consumers. Testimonials from entrepreneurs who have utilized our maps for decision-making can be found here and here. For policymakers on the other hand, the maps can provide a clear indication of where private sector involvement with electricity provision will be limited (those regions or districts that have significant gaps in electrification but are not economically buoyant), and help policymakers to think through how to more effectively distribute public finance. Funding institutions can fall on these maps to help them to identify existing opportunities to invest in or support the implementation of electrification initiatives in the two countries. The maps can also inform CSOs about the energy access situation more generally, supporting their work through updated data.