Off-Grid Productivity: powering universal energy access

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January 2019
International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)

This policy brief, Off-grid productivity: powering universal energy access, outlines how mainstreaming productive uses of energy (PUE) can drive economic development, boost demand for energy, and support governments' sustainable development plans based upon evidence and experiences from the Energy Change Lab, a programme led by IIED and Hivos that works closely with partners in Tanzania on productive uses of energy (PUE) for community entrepreneurs.

For communities in rural Africa to thrive, energy services must be affordable and reliable. But this is not enough. Energy services must be built around productive uses of energy (PUE) from the start: PUE activities are crucial to boosting demand for off-grid energy systems, while generating valuable income for remote communities and ultimately reducing poverty. Governments, mini-grid developers, and partners can boost local demand for electricity by providing capacity building and long-term mentorship, along with customer financing and appliances. These stakeholders must collaborate closely to ensure a supportive policy framework is in place. To help jumpstart PUE, governments and donors should establish credit schemes and concessional loans, and experiment with finance instruments such as improved results-based financing and targeted subsidies for those who need them most. Across this work, women’s entrepreneurship must be targeted. Taking these actions to unleash PUE will help drive us to universal energy access.