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Low-cost Electrification
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A working paper on why, in most developing countries, efforts to provide electricity to poor households have had only limited success, this text draws on the experience of experts involved in low-cost electrification and evidence collected from six developing countries. The paper contains a complete review of the problems faced by poor users which include high connection costs, high costs of house-wiring, and houses failing to meet standard requirements, as well as a review of the constraints faced by power utilities such as high capital costs and high revenue-collection costs. The text suggests a number of new and practical approaches, and ways to implement them, which can make electrification more economic for the utility, and spread the electrification more equitably across the social spectrum.
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Table of Contents

Foreword Acknowledgements 1 Executive summary 2 Background 2.1 Uptake of electricity connections by low income households 2.2 Reasons for providing electricity to low income households 2.3 Electricity usage by low income households 3 Financial viability 3.1 Expenditure on electricity by low income households 3.2 The cost to the utility of providing electricity to domestic consumers 3.3 Reducing the cost to the utility of providing electricity to low income households 4 Constraints faced by utilities 4.1 High capital costs 4.2 High revenue collection costs 4.3 Low income from existing operation 4.4 Insufficient generating capacity for additional consumers 4.5 High connection costs to scattered homesteads 4.6 Theft 5 Problems faced by consumers 5.1 High charge for initial connection 5.2 High cost of house-wiring 5.3 Uncertainty over electricity charges 5.4 Safety standards 5.5 Distance to payment centre 5.6 Poor quality/reliability of supply 6 Solutions 6.1 Load limited supply 6.1.1 General description 6.1.2 Basic operation 6.1.3 Load factor 6.1.4 Cost 6.1.5 Accuracy 6.1.6 Advantages 6.1.7 Disadvantages 6.1.8 The way forward 6.2 Reduced service connection costs 6.3 Pre-fabricated wiring systems 6.31 Wiring harnesses 6.32 Ready boards 6.3-3 Conclusions 6.4 Credit 6.5 Community involvement 6.51 Local community involvement 6.5.2 Cooperatives 6.6 Prepayment meters 6.7 Tariff reforms 6.8 Revised safety standards 7 Acceptability of solutions 28 8 Guidelines for utilities 30 9 Cost savings 31 9.1 Load limited supply 31 9.2 Pre-fabricated wiring systems 31 9.3 Community involvement 31 10 Further work 32 10.1 Improved channels of communication 32 10.2 Technical developments 32 10.3 Demonstration projects 32 Appendix 1: Terms of reference 34 Appendix 2: Organisations visited 34 Appendix 3: Individuals consulted 36 References 37

About the Author

Dr Nigel Smith is an independent engineering consultant with experience in low-cost electrification in developing countries.

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