Power Africa Impact Study Shows Positive Impact of New Connections
The U.S. Government’s Power Africa effort is based on the principle that people’s lives will improve dramatically if they get access to electricity. Electricity not only was necessary to keep 6 of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world on track to continue creating jobs. But it also was necessary to get people to stop burning dirty, dangerous kerosene for light.
Power Africa’s goal of bringing electricity to at least half of the 600 million people in sub-Saharan Africa without access to electricity was designed to make sure that children could study at night, that farmers could mill their grains, and health clinics could improve their service. By working with the private sector to double electricity access, we are sparking diverse economic growth and catalyzing lasting gains in health, education, and energy security.
To get a better sense of how getting access to electricity for the first time affects people’s lives, Power Africa commissioned a Qualitative Data Collection designed to help understand the most significant changes that have occurred in communities as a result of energy access.
The team focused in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, and Nigeria, interviewing 200 electricity consumers who have recently been connected to a central grid, mini-grid, or off-grid solution with Power Africa’s support. The results show evidence from the field of how the work of our partners translates into impactful, meaningful change in people’s lives.
Increasing energy generation and access to electricity in Africa provides a strong return on investment for African and U.S. businesses by generating new trade and economic opportunities, while having a positive humanitarian impact for rural and underdeveloped communities.
The World Bank clearly links energy, economic development and poverty reduction. Increases in per capita energy consumption corresponds directly with an increase in per capita GDP.
Applying the Most Significant Change (MSC) participatory qualitative data collection methodology, the study interviewed 200 electricity customers who gained access to electricity with support from Power Africa in the four countries. The data and stories the team had collected, captured evidence of key outcomes, underlying the significance of Power Africa’s activities.
Before the [on-grid] connection, we almost never used the refrigerator since there was not enough power… We stopped bringing many medicines because of that … [now] you can take medicines for diabetic people, tetanus medicines and so on… Now that we do not have power shortage, we are able to store our medicines properly.
YARED — TULU DIMTU, ETHIOPIA
The team interviewed a diverse group of electricity consumers, including on-grid, mini-grid, Solar Home Systems (SHS) and solar lanterns. For off-grid customers, Power Africa advisors and USAID missions worked with off-grid companies to identify interviewees. In some cases, representatives of these companies accompanied the research team to the villages for interviews. In other cases, lists of customers were provided to the team and interviews were conducted independently.
It is very dangerous to use kerosene lantern… There were children who caught fire and were killed… They were lying on the floor and studying when the gas spilled on them and caught fire. I thought about that when the solar system opportunity came to our town.
NEGA — MUHER AKLIL, ETHIOPIA
African utilities identified on-grid customers to be interviewed. In some cases, relevant geographic locations were identified, and the research team interviewed on-grid individuals chosen at random in these locations. Interviews took 30–45 minutes and were conducted between March 20 and April 26, 2019. The team performed the interviews in person and recorded when permission was granted.
Asked about the most significant changes in their lives as a result of electricity access, interviewees mentioned a wide variety of quality-of-life improvements such as increased business activity and increased income, saved time and expenses, increased educational attainment, and increased health and safety.
Once we got connected to the solar system, we acquired a refrigerator. With it, we are able to buy and preserve more fresh fish for sale. We serve more customers now and that has increased our daily income from the business.
KOFI — ADOOWA, GHANA
Consumers commonly cited increased business activities and saved costs and time as the most significant change with mini-grid connections, on-grid connections, and solar lanterns. Solar Home System (SHS) users, and to a lesser extent mini-grid customers, reported changes to education. Customers with on-grid connections and SHS reported health, safety, and crime-prevention impacts. Customers across all technologies mentioned quality-of-life changes.
Evidence has also shown that on- and off-grid solutions, solar lanterns, and SHSs have managed to replace combustibles (firewood, charcoal, etc.) as the primary energy source.