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Results Briefs November 10, 2020

Measuring Energy Access in Multidimensional Way through Household Surveys Multi-tier Energy Access Tracking Framework Global Surveys


The Multi-tier energy access Tracking Framework (MTF) has transformed the definition of energy access expanding from the traditional binary to a multi-dimensional approach. Implementation of the framework through household surveys has been critical in developing a more granular (and policy-relevant) understanding of the energy access status in sixteen countries; establishing the baseline for national electrification program in five countries; and provide the data and analytics for several energy sector reports, including the World Bank Group’s 2020 Off-Grid Solar Market Trends Report.

Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7.1 calls for “universal access to affordable, reliable, and modern energy”.  Achieving this required substantial new investment, deployment of innovative technologies, and a wide range of interventions targeted for underserved populations. The success of such interventions largely depended on data and analytics to identify existing access gaps and understand user-perspectives on the affordability and reliability of electricity. 

There was a lack of a framework to understand the energy access issue more comprehensively beyond household connections. Even those with a connection to electricity faced constrains like insufficient electricity supply, frequent interruptions, or voltage fluctuations. The traditional binary measure of energy access did not illustrate whether the “connected” households received an adequate level of service, leaving the quality aspects of energy access unaddressed. Comprehensive surveys were needed to collect such granular data.

The MTF, launched in June 2015 by the Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP), defines the access to electricity and modern energy cooking services as the ability to obtain energy that is adequate, available when needed, reliable, of good quality, affordable, formal, convenient, healthy, and safe for all required energy applications across households, enterprises, and community institutions. Based on this definition, the MTF measures energy access provided by any technology or fuel, based on a set of attributes that capture key characteristics of the energy supply that affect the user experience. Based on those attributes, it then defines six tiers of access, ranging from Tier 0 (no access) to Tier 5 (full access). 

The MTF data collected through survey instrument allows governments to identify and understand energy access gaps and develop potential solutions to improve energy services. The MTF identifies and analyzes the main reasons why households are not using electricity, or why their usage is limited, and then recommends a set of measures to remove such constraints. MTF, therefore, not only allows for a nuanced tracking of SDG 7 targets, but also helps governments fine-tune their policies and approaches for reaching them. 

Prioritizing investment and interventions and setting country-specific energy access targets. Results of the MTF surveys have contributed to improving Government strategies and IDA operations. Specifically, in Rwanda, the MTF data is being used by Government to design a Renewable Energy Fund where MTF data was used to identify the current access status and set access targets using Tier terms in 2017. In Uganda, the government and the World Bank project team are using the MTF dataset to better understand the levels of electricity consumption among grid-connected households in 2020. Such information will help revise assumptions on electricity demand for the geospatial electrification planning exercise that is being carried out.

Supporting national electrification strategies. In Ethiopia, the key MTF findings on access status, affordability, and gender analysis were integrated in the National Electrification Strategies in 2019. The MTF and geospatial approaches helped to set the specific target: 35 percent of households will be electrified through Tier 1-2 level of services and the rest through Tier 3-5 level by 2025. Rural Electrification Strategy in Rwanda reframed the 2018 access target reflecting the MTF findings: 70 percent of electrification through 31-35 percent on-grid access; 13-17 percent through systems Tier 2 access level; and 22% through Tier 1 and above access level. MTF established the baseline to track the progress under National Electrification Project (NEP) and informed the Myanmar government in its electrification priority.

Assisting policy formulation. In Nepal, the First Programmatic Energy Sector Development Policy Credit Project was prepared using MTF results in 2019: data on grid access, electricity consumption, and expenditure was used in the impact analysis of a tariff increase on households’ welfare.

Understanding the role of off-grid energy solutions. The Off-Grid Solar Market Trend Report 2020 (Lightening Global Program 2020) used MTF data available in eight countries to estimate the size of the off-grid solar market, understand the role of off-grid solar products in electrification, and assess affordability gaps.

Bank Contribution
The MTF global survey was implemented with the financial support from the ESMAP for a total envelope of US$ 8.3 million and with a contribution from the Scale-up Renewable Energy Program (SREP) of US$2 million. MTF global surveys were implemented in 16 countries including Rwanda, Ethiopia, Myanmar, Cambodia, Nepal, Zambia, Sao Tome, and Principe, Kenya, Bangladesh, Honduras, Nigeria, Liberia, Niger, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, and Uganda. The MTF team has developed and customized the survey methodology including the framework, the questionnaire, and the sampling strategy with support from the Living Standard Measurement Study (LSMS) team and Poverty Global Practice.

Aside from the donors that contributed to the ESMAP and SREP, MTF surveys were prepared and implemented by the World Bank and the governments where the MTF survey was conducted. The Rockefeller Foundation financed the MTF enterprise survey (US$ 250,000) which aims to investigate the access status of enterprises and productive use of electricity. German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) has financially supported the MTF survey in Madagascar with the special focus on the status and quality of mini-grid operations (EUR 62,000).

Moving Forward
Integrate a core MTF survey module into national household surveys: the ESMAP and the World Health Organization (WHO) along with the World Bank’s Living Standard Measurement Study (LSMS) team, have developed the questionnaire to be integrated into national surveys. Integration of the Core Questions in national household surveys will ensure the sustainability of the MTF data collection. The upcoming survey guidebook will help national statistical offices add more energy-related questions to national surveys.

Assess the energy access status in displaced communities: The MTF survey will also target vulnerable populations by integrating specific module on status of energy access for displaced communities and refugees​.

Carry out in-depth research using MTF data: in-depth analysis will provide the insights on various topics including the drivers of off-grid technologies, the causality between access to energy and outcome indicators (such as a household’s welfare), and the reasons behind low electricity consumption in grid-connected households.

Understand the drivers and differences behind energy and clean cooking access in female- and male-headed households: this addition is key to understanding the drivers behind energy access for men and women and to make evidence-based recommendations to policy makers and practitioners.

Additionally, the MTF team aims to democratize the MTF surveys and data analysis by streamlining and digitizing the process—from preparation and implementation to data analysis and visualization. Besides, the MTF survey has been structured by module, making it possible for practitioners to carry out only parts of the survey or add modules (such as an energy-efficiency survey module) if desired, using the CAPI (Computer-Assisted Personal Interview) script provided.

Policy makers can formulate the effective policies to address the energy access issues by identifying the energy access gap and set the target - “It is time now to turn our attention to strengthening the reliability and quality of electricity supply, which would enable families and businesses to flourish” (Ty Norin, Chairperson of Electricity Authority of Cambodia). In turn, such successful policy formulation and target setting could help general population to enjoy the access to electricity and clean cooking services.