National Approaches to Electrification – Review of Options

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NAE Overview Page

Category Dashboard

TechnologyTechnology: Grid ExtensionTechnology: Grid-Connected Mini-Grid/Distribution SystemTechnology: Isolated Mini-GridTechnology: Standalone SystemsDelivery ModelDelivery Model: PublicDelivery Model: Private (Non-Government)Delivery Model: Public-Private PartnershipLegal BasisLegal Basis: ConcessionLegal Basis: LicenseLegal Basis / Price/Tariff Regulation: UnregulatedPrice/Tariff RegulationPrice/Tariff Regulation: UniformPrice/Tariff Regulation: IndividualFinanceFinance: PrivateFinance : UserFinance: Grants & SubsidiesFinance: Cross-SubsidiesFinance: Tax ExemptionsFinance: GuaranteesNon-Financial InterventionsNon-Financial Interventions: Direct Energy Access ProvisionNon-Financial Interventions: Institutional RestructuringNon-Financial Interventions: Regulatory ReformNon-Financial Interventions: Policy & Target SettingNon-Financial Interventions: Quality & Technical StandardsNon-Financial Interventions: Technical AssistanceNon-Financial Interventions: Capacity Building & Awareness RaisingNon-Financial Interventions: Market InformationNon-Financial Interventions: Demand PromotionNon-Financial Interventions: Technology Development & AdoptionNon-Financial Interventions: National Energy PlanningNational Approaches to Electrification – Review of Options.png]]

Key Messages

  • Categorization allows National Electrification Approaches (NAE) to be presented and compared systematically
  • NAEs combine technologies, delivery models, regulation, financial and other interventions – most effective approaches include actions in all these areas
  • There is no one ideal approach to electrification. Successful NAEelements are well alighted with each otehr and national context
  • NAE should change over time as levels of electrification increase
  • Major advances in electrification can be achieved in just a few years given commitment from policy makers.

What are National Approaches to Electrification (NAE)?


NAE are "an approach adopted by national authorities to increase electricity access in a country."

  • NAE are based on and driven by government policies
  • An initiative by a business or NGO alone will not qualify as an NAE
  • Most NAE are based on explicit government policies and interventions, but a policy of non-intervention (eg a decision not to regulate) may also be part of an NAE
  • NAE may consist of a multi-faceted programme combining policies, financing, and interventions or just of a single policy or intervention 


The purpose of this Option Review Tool is to support analysis of NAE and assist in identifying options and so improving NAE design. 

A country may have more than one NAE and a critical first step is to set boundaries around the NAE:

  • These need to be wide enough to include policies and interventions which interact
  • But they need to be narrow enough to support meaningful analysis (impossible if every category of NAE activity is included)

There are no absolute rules, but some suggestions:

  • Set time boundaries – Approaches change over time
  • Consider looking at one technology or one type of delivery model at a time
  • Are different approaches most relevant in different areas of the country (eg urban/rural  or regions) or for different user groups (households, SMEs etc)?
  • Do not split single, coherent, programmes  designed to include multiple categories
  • Set boundaries iteratively – aim to include 1(at most 2) types of technology, delivery  model, legal basis and form of tariff regulation - and revise boundaries to optimise the balance between encompassing relevant aspects and ease of analysis.

How to Use this Tool

The dashboard (above) allows you to click on the respective chapter that interests you. The case study overview (below) allows you to check what topics are touched by the respective case study.

Downloading the Tool

The tool is available to download as a Powerpoint in a full-screen slideshow: please download this file and change it from ".pptx" to ".ppsx".[1] This slideshow will open in full screen mode. However, this wiki entails a full copy of this slideshow:

  1. Unfortunately, the wiki does not allow to upload .ppsx files directly.

Categorization of National Approaches to Electrification

Categorization makes it possible to look at NAE on a systematic, country-neutral basis to understand and compare options.

Up to now, NAE have most frequently been categorized by:

  • Technology or form of electrification eg grid, mini-grid or standalone
  • Delivery model – generally government vs market or centralized vs decentralized
  • Form of policy or intervention

These categorization systems address only a single aspect of the NAE. Different systems use inconsistent definitions and generally cover only one form of electrification (eg mini-grids, or pico-solar).

A new categorization system which encompasses  all forms and aspects of NAE is needed.

Information on Categories

Definitions for Categorization Framework


Delivery Model

Legal Basis

Price/Tariff Regulation


Non-Financial Interventions

The physical means by which electricity is generated, transmitted and distributed

The  (market) chain of organisations through which electricity is delivered to users

The  basis on which organisations are legally entitled to sell electricity

The basis on which the price of electricity (or of standalone systems) are regulated 

Forms of funding used to finance electricity access

Actions taken to support or facilitate electricity access

Country Case Studies

Bangladesh, IDCOL Solar Home SystemsBrazil, Luz para Todos (Light for All)NAE Case Study: Cambodia “Light Touch” RegulationCosta Rica, Distribution CooperativesEthiopia, Solar Market DevelopmentKenya, Off-Grid for Vision 2030Mali, Rural Electrification ProgrammeNepal, Rural Energy Development ProgrammePeru, Concession Model for Standalone SystemsPhilippines, Islanded Distribution by CooperativesRwanda, Sector-Wide Approach to PlanningSouth Africa, Integrated National ElectrificationTanzania, Mini-Grids Regulatory FrameworkTunisia, Low Cost Distribution TechnologyVietnam, Rapid Grid ExpansionNAE Case Studies Navigation Table.png]]



Authors: Mary Willcox, Dean Cooper


The Review was prepared by Mary Willcox and Dean Cooper of Practical Action Consulting working with Hadley Taylor, Silvia Cabriolu-Poddu and Christina Stuart of the EU Energy Initiative Partnership Dialogue Facility (EUEIPDF) and Michael Koeberlein and Caspar Priesemann of the Energising Development Programme (EnDev). It is based on a literature review, stakeholder consultations. The categorization framework in the review tool is based on the EUEI/PDF / Practical Action publication "Building Energy Access Markets - A Value Chain Analysis of Key Energy Market Systems".

A wider range of stakeholders was consulted during its preparation and we would particularly like to thank the following for their valuable contributions and insights:

- Jeff Felten, AfDB

- Marcus Wiemann and other members, ARE

- Guilherme Collares Pereira, EdP    

- David Otieno Ochieng, EUEI-PDF

- Silvia Luisa Escudero Santos Ascarza, EUEI-PDF

- Nico Peterschmidt, Inensus

- John Tkacik, REEEP

- Khorommbi Bongwe, South Africa: Department of Energy

- Rashid Ali Abdallah, African Union Commission

- Nicola Bugatti, ECREEE

- Getahun Moges Kifle, Ethiopian Energy Authority

- Mario Merchan Andres, EUEI-PDF

- Tatjana Walter-Breidenstein, EUEI-PDF

- Rebecca Symington, Mlinda Foundation

- Marcel Raats, RVO.NL

- Nico Tyabji, Sunfunder

NAE Overview Page

Any feedback would be very welcome. If you have any comments or enquiries please contact:, or

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