Access to electricity

FERDI contributes to the debate on projects to extend access to electricity, particularly in Africa, through research that focuses both on the identification of decentralized electrification projects and on analyzing their impact on economic development and poverty reduction.

This field of research is particularly important for Africa for two reasons. Firstly Africa is a long way behind in this area: 600 million Africans had no access to electricity in 2017. Secondly the abundance of solar resources over a large part of Africa and the drop in solar electricity production costs is shaking up electrification strategies by making decentralized electrification solutions viable, potentially in combination with other renewable energy sources (hydro, wind, biomass, geothermal).

However, to sustain decentralized electrification development, a high-quality impact evaluation is needed. Without it, developers and financiers will lack visibility of the most appropriate solutions and on the impacts expected, and the expected scaling up would be hindered. 

FERDI's activities on this program are divided into four complementary areas:

Database CoSMMA (Collaborative Smart Mapping of Mini-Grid Action)

Since its creation in 2017, this database has been gradually expanded. Today it lists 125 research papers, covering 403 projects and identifying 2,712 effects of these projects.

For each project, the database lists :

  • technical/economic: the energy source, the power of the installations, any problems, the price at which the electricity is sold and its cost
  • geographical: location and population concerned
  • level: from local to multi-national, at which the project was decided and implemented.

The database has been available online since November 2019: See

Use of the database by meta-analysis

The objective of the meta-analysis of the CoSMMA database is to determine which characteristics of decentralized electrification projects are most likely to have positive impacts on sustainable development.

4 main characteristics were selected for this analysis: technology (source or energy), system size (power), decision-making level (local to national), and geographical location.

This analysis is in the exploratory phase but the first results highlight the roles of the energy source and the size of the system (See: Berthelemy J-C, Millien A. (2018) "Impact of decentralized electrification projects on sustainable development: A meta-analysis", FERDI Working paper P240, November).

Collaboration with WAEMU

For WAEMU, FERDI has published a report on the assessment and prospects for decentralized electrification in the WAEMU region. The conclusions of this report were published as a working document (Berthelemy J-C., Nossek V. (2018) "Decentralized electrification in WAEMU: lessons from experience and recommendations", FERDI Brief note B182, December 2018).

The publication of this report resulted in a collaboration with ECREEE (ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency).

Collaboration with Électriciens sans frontières

This collaboration began in 2016 with the publication of the special issue of FACTS Reports (Berthelemy, J-C and Béguerie, V. (dir.) (2016) Decentralized electrification and development, Special issue of FACTS Report, Institut Veolia and FERDI, Second half of 2016) on decentralized electrification. The aim was to carry out an impact assessment of the "café lumière" project, which consists of creating solar kiosks to provide electrical services to households, craftsmen, and local communities.

Results and Impact

  • Creation of a smart mapping of decentralized electrification projects: the CoSMMA database currently lists 123 research papers, covering 421 projects and identifying 2,605 effects of these projects
  • Partnerships and exchanges with stakeholders in the field: ESF, WAEMU, Centre for Renewable Energy, ECREEE (ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency)
  • Joint publication Institut Veolia/FERDI of a special issue of Facts Report: Decentralized electrification and development, Special issue of FACTS Report under the direction of Jean-Claude Berthélemy and Victor Beguerie. This special issue of FACTS Report presents concrete cases of decentralized electrification presented by the project leaders themselves.

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