Socio-economic impacts of rural electrification in Tanzania

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Annika Groth

Abstract

Recently, penetration rates of solar PV-systems increased drastically in rural Sub-Saharan Africa, and there will be less areas without electricity access altogether. Conversely, mini-grid systems are expected to be key in rural electrification because they allow for higher loads. Eventually, interconnection of national grids with mini-grid systems will gain importance. As a means to quantify the quality of energy access, the Multi-Tier-Framework no longer defines electrification as binary but multi-dimensional. This study compares effects of electrification on households connected to an interconnected mini-grid system with effects on households connected to off-grid energy systems in rural Tanzania. Relying on Propensity Score Matching, the analysis concludes that mean lumen and lighting hours in mini-grid electrified villages are significantly higher. Regarding usage of electrical equipment and expenditures for energy sources, minor differences are detected. However, lighting belongs to the most direct impacts of electrification and assumes an intermediary role in promoting further effects. The case study shows that off-grid technologies are important sources to bridge and narrow the “lighting gap” and can already meet a certain level of rural electricity demand. Pre-grid-electrified statuses and their socio-economic impacts need to be reflected in research as they build the foundation for further electrification measures.

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