Access to affordable energy for basic needs, as well as for national economic development, is a crucial concern for Least Developed Countries. Access to modern and sustainable energy services in rural areas, where the majority of the population is living in poverty, is a particularly urgent challenge, and one which has only recently been recognized as crucial within the global development agenda.

The current dominant development model, focused on achieving macroeconomic growth, gives priority to large-scale or centralized energy infrastructures for national growth or for meeting the demands of urban dwellers. Policy processes in most sub-Saharan African countries often fail to prioritize modern and sustainable energy services at the local level as a means to achieving economic growth at the national level.

This study examines the case of Ethiopia to investigate the prospects for mainstreaming sustainable energy access into the development planning process and the implications of this for international development financiers, national policy-makers, private actors and local energy planners. In particular, the paper identifies institutional, financial and policy criteria – related both to state and non-state actors – which are required to integrate sustainable energy access and meet implementation challenges in the Ethiopian rural energy sector.

Based on this analysis, the paper discusses policy implications for other sub-Saharan African countries as well.

Download the working paper (PDF, 2.7MB)