The study is based on literature, and on data from eight visited local organisations for management of power supply in Bolivia (4), India (1) and Nepal (3). Common for these countries is that the national, rural electrification programmes have encountered difficulties. Governments have failed to generate enough funds from existing power supply systems to cover the cost for a continued rural electrification. In cases where large private companies exist, they have had few incentives for expanding into rural areas since it is often not profit-making. A third category may be defined as local initiators to power supply, private or co-operative. In all these countries, locally managed power supply systems have developed as a complement to governmental and other large scale programmes. The national policies pertaining to rural power supply in general and local management thereof in particular are described for each country. The eight case studies aims to explore general experiences and reflections about the benefits of, and difficulties with, local management of rural power supply.

From the study, it appears that local management of rural power supply is a feasible approach in developing countries. Local management of rural power supply can slightly lower the costs of electrification, and it may help accelerate the pace of load development in newly electrified areas. For successful local organisations though, the most significant factor appears to be local peoples’ willingness to develop their own area. The local interest outweighs some of the negative factors identified by national interests such as risky investments and poor dividends. Important though, is that proper financial and technical assistance is provided the local organisations, particularly during their first years in operation. Crucial for sound external assistance is that the national rural electrification policies are clear and consistent.