Energy poverty is a global problem: access to energy services is crucial to meet basic household needs, deliver and access public services, and generate income. Less than 10 percent of sub-Saharan (SSA) rural households have access to electricity, with an overall access rate below 25 percent. One of the main obstacles for SSA electrification practitioners is the difficulty in obtaining practical and timely knowledge on how to overcome economic, technical, institutional, and political barriers to electrification in their day-to-day work.
For this workshop, AEI gathered about 230 practitioners from 41 countries, including 33 SSA countries whose day-to-day activities concentrate on electrification. The workshop set out to address a number of relevant electrification topics previously identified through in-depth discussions and ongoing knowledge exchanges among a growing network of SSA practitioners. The workshop’s main focus was on ground-level implementation of different institutional approaches to electrification, with particular focus on the experiences of rural energy agencies/rural energy funds (REAs/REFs) across SSA. It was designed to examine how REAs/REFs interact with national utilities, ministries and regulators, and to encourage practical knowledge sharing among REAs/REFs in the SSA region by comparing their different approaches and documenting early lessons learned from their operations. The workshop also gave some thought as to how best to use the momentum from the upcoming United Nations 2012 International Year of Sustainable Energy for All.