Identifying Opportunities for Universal Electricity Access in Senegal

Tata Awa from Cherif Lô with her sewing machine after her community was connected to electricity.

Senegal’s Universal Electricity Access Program aims to add 800,000 household connections by 2025 to bridge the electricity access gap between rural and urban communities.

Since 2013, Power Africa has helped Senegal’s national electric utility, SENELEC, roll out nearly 100,000 new connections in the country, providing power to approximately one million people. This is in consideration of Senegal’s 2013 population census report which indicates that one rural household holds an average of 10 persons: Rapport Definitif, Recensement Général de la Population et de l’Habitat, de l’Agriculture et de l’Elevage (RGPHAE) .

In August 2021, Power Africa assisted SENELEC with an extensive survey (as part of a broader study) of more than 4,000 households across the 14 regions of Senegal to understand the challenges communities face due to a lack of electricity access, as well as to identify the potential benefits of being connected.

Cheikh, a resident of rural Keur Ndiouga Fall, owns a small fish business and does not have access to electricity. According to Cheikh, “The cost of not having electricity for my small business is high; I spend 3000 CFA ($5.30) on ice and 2000 CFA ($3.60) on transport every time I have to store the fish to sell.”

Saye, from rural Tallene, wants to start a business that will allow her to build savings. Saye’s hope is to buy a refrigerator and start a juice and ice cream business as soon as her family gets electricity.

The SENELEC survey confirmed that in areas such as Sanghe and Cherif Lô, households that have electricity access are doing relatively well. Abdoulaye, whose house was connected to the grid in 2009, says, “Electricity has greatly improved our living conditions. The most important impact I have seen is on my children. Now, they can study at night.”

Tata Awa also expanded her sewing business after her workshop was connected to the grid. In 2013, she had only one sewing machine; she now has four, and she has hired three additional tailors.

The survey results identified existing and potential barriers to expanding end-user access and outlined some recommendations including guidelines to reduce the cost of connection and to optimize the grid connection application process, particularly for low-income households. The survey will help SENELEC prioritize localities to connect to the grid, evaluate expected connections and resources and optimize the mobilization of funds.

Power Africa continues to provide much-needed technical support and clear recommendations on electrification planning, management, and monitoring to help Senegal achieve its goal of universal electrification.

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