Africa–Off-Grid Energy Access Mapping in Sub-Saharan Africa

Client: World Bank

Duration: 2016-2016

Region: Sub-Saharan Africa

Country: Regional

Solutions: Sustainable Business

With more than one billion people around the world living without reliable and affordable electricity, an increasing number of off-grid energy technologies and business models are emerging in an effort to close this global energy access gap. While companies offering off-grid solutions are interested in the world’s most under-electrified areas, they often lack the critical information on market potential, electrical infrastructure, socioeconomic contexts, and energy demand required to make prudent investment decisions.

DAI’s Sustainable Business Group (SBG) was sub-contracted by Development Seed to support this project by providing guidance and expertise on energy demand and access in Sub-Saharan Africa, along with support for data needs. SBG designed a methodology to address these data needs and to ensure that investors on the ground could access relevant information and analyze potential opportunities. The data was integrated into a web-based geo-analytical tool that maps potential hot spots for investment across Sub-Saharan Africa, with more granular focus on regions in Nigeria, Tanzania, and Zambia.

SBG identified a potential data framework for identifying off-grid or inadequately served market opportunities based on demographics, energy access, energy expenditure, available financing, and payment methods, productive uses, land use, and renewables potential.  By identifying indicator data from World Bank household surveys, the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Demographic and Health Surveys, and financial inclusion surveys, SBG was able to determine areas of unserved and underserved electrification, where fuel payments for self-generation were high, and basic energy expenditure was at a subnational level. Combining those datasets with data on wealth, solar irradiance, and mobile access provided investors with data to better understand the market opportunities. 

In total, SBG researched 54 datasets. The research was critical to determining what landscape of data and indicators would be readily available in the short time frame of the project. As part of this research, SBG also provided guidance and support to Development Seed on energy access and demand issues. This guided the indicators we chose to include, the datasets we selected, and the models we recommended for quantifiably estimating the size of the potential off-grid market.

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