Why is Household Electricity Uptake Low in Sub-Saharan Africa

Moussa P. Blimpo, Agnieszka Postepska*, Yanbin Xu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
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This paper uses recent individual and household-level data from various sources covering over 30 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, along with qualitative fieldwork in selected countries, to shed light on demand-side constraints to electricity access. First, it uses a simple accounting identity to decompose the electricity access gap into supply, demand, and mixed demand–supply factors. Results show that the demand factors account for over two-fifth of electricity access deficit across the region whereas electrification efforts have largely focused on supply issues. Second, the paper combines regression and qualitative fieldwork analysis to examine household and community characteristics that affect electricity uptake. It finds that at the household level, while the level of income is a primary driver of uptake, the regularity of income is as important. The quality of housing is also a consistently significant predictor. At the community-level, the results show that higher uptake is associated with communities that are better endowed with other infrastructures including public services. This finding is consistent with qualitative evidence supporting that households associate electricity access primarily with the prospect of more productive economic activities. Policies focusing on lowering access costs, streamlining flexible bill payments and connection mechanisms, and efforts to target, or bundle with, complementary income-generating inputs should go hand in hand with supply-side efforts.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105002
Number of pages20
JournalWorld Development
Early online date21-May-2020
Publication statusPublished - Sep-2020



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