Social, cultural and political dimensions of off-grid renewable energy programs in developing countries

Highlights

Sound technology and affordable financing are only part of the solution of a successful off-grid renewable energy programme.

Sustainable off-grid renewable energy electrification requires careful attention to socio-cultural and political issues.

Off-grid renewable energy policies need to reflect the needs of target communities.

Involving the community in program planning and design is the cornerstone of a long-term sustainable program.

Abstract

Renewable energy based off-grid rural electrification programs are one of the most effective ways to increase access to energy in remote areas of developing countries. While a large number of such programs have been implemented, the rate of success, to ensure a long-term sustainable program, is low. Many of these programs have failed to appropriately address the social and cultural issues of target communities, which resulted low or no acceptance by the users. Similarly, many rural electrification policies fail to incorporate the needs and views of the users resulting in an unresponsive policy measures. In this paper a framework is presented that would assist in assessing community attitudes and their needs by presenting key factors that need to be considered in different stages of program development and implementation. The framework has been developed in line with the concept of “diffusion of innovation”, which has been found to be in agreement with the stages of off-grid renewable energy program development. It is anticipated that this holistic framework will not only help to achieve a long-term sustainable program, but will also offer a significant contribution in achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by improving access to energy for rural people in developing countries.

Keywords

  • Renewable energy;
  • Off-grid rural electrification;
  • Socio-cultural and policy issues;
  • Community participation;
  • Diffusion of innovation

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