Beyond Connections: Energy Access Redefined


ESMAP / World Bank

Is having an electricity line run into your home the same as you being able to turn on lights or appliances without worrying if it is affordable and of good quality? And is access to energy any good if it is often unreliable, inconvenient or unsafe?

Simply put, measuring whether someone has energy access or not does not paint a complete picture of the quality of access itself.

This new report entitled Beyond Connections: Energy Access Redefined, proposes a new multi-tier framework for defining and measuring access to energy. Binary metrics -- whether a household has an electricity connection, and whether a household cooks with fuels like charcoal or dung -- don’t help us understand the phenomenon of expanding energy access and how it impacts socio-economic development. The framework covers not just energy for households, work spaces and community facilities.

Why is this important?

Because access to good quality, reliable, convenient, affordable and safe energy can change lives. It can reduce human effort, enhance comfort and enable telecommunications, education and better healthcare. It can reduce the time spent on fuel gathering and benefit women and girls in particular, and reduce the harmful impacts from smoky cook stoves. Access to reliable and quality energy supply can boost productivity and economic activity, which can in turn create opportunities for jobs and incomes. It can also improve public safety, and facilitate the delivery of education, health services and e-governance.

The multi-tier framework can be used as a tool for setting goals for investment prioritization and tracking progress. It will help capture the multiple modes of delivering energy access from grid to off-grid and to the range of cooking methods and fuels people use. Finally, it could also help reflect the contributions of various programs, agencies, and national governments toward achieving the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) goals.

The report was produced jointly by the World Bank’s Energy and Extractives Global Practice and the World Bank’s Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP) and supported by key partner organizations and agencies.