Barriers to Electrification for "Under Grid" Households in Rural Kenya

Kenneth Lee, Eric Brewer, Carson Christiano, Francis Meyo, Edward Miguel, Matthew Podolsky, Javier Rosa, Catherine Wolfram

NBER Working Paper No. 20327
Issued in July 2014
NBER Program(s):   DEV   EEE

In Sub-Saharan Africa, 600 million people live without electricity. Despite ambitions of governments and donors to invest in rural electrification, decisions about how to extend electricity access are being made in the absence of rigorous evidence. Using a novel dataset of 20,000 geo-tagged structures in rural Western Kenya, we provide descriptive evidence that electrification rates remain very low despite significant investments in grid infrastructure. This pattern holds across time and for both poor and relatively well-off households and businesses. We argue that if governments wish to leverage existing infrastructure and economies of scale, subsidies and new approaches to financing connections are necessary.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w20327

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