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Energies 2019, 12(5), 778;

The Impact of an Electrical Mini-grid on the Development of a Rural Community in Kenya

Energy & Climate Change Division, Sustainable Energy Research Group (, Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences, University of Southampton, Southampton SO17 1BJ, UK
Kenya Ministry of Energy and Petroleum, Nyayo House, P. O. Box 30582, Nairobi 00100, Kenya
Centre for Global Health, Population, Poverty and Policy, Faculty of Social and Human Sciences, University of Southampton, Southampton SO17 1BJ, UK
Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Stirling, Stirling FK9 4LA, UK
Singapore Management University, 81 Victoria Street, Singapore 188065, Singapore
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 15 January 2019 / Revised: 19 February 2019 / Accepted: 23 February 2019 / Published: 26 February 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Sustainable Energy)
PDF [3731 KB, uploaded 26 February 2019]


Electrical mini-grids can provide electrification to rural communities far from the national network. However the benefits of such schemes are disputed. We observed changes in two matched trading-centres in Makueni County, Kenya, neither of which were initially electrified. During the study a solar photovoltaic mini-grid scheme (13.5 kWp) was constructed in one of the trading-centres. After electrification there were relative increases in the number of businesses and business income. Comparing the households in the areas around the trading centres, perceived wealth increased more around the electrified trading centre. Qualitative interviews indicated improvements in service provision by the local school and health centre. The co-operative set up to run the mini-grid was free to set its own kWh tariff and chose to reduce it to a level that covers operating costs and would recover 70% of the initial investment interest-free. However, the tariff finally agreed is higher than the national grid tariff, which would be difficult to achieve if the mini-grid was not owned by and run for the benefit of the local community. Overall, we found that the mini-grid had a positive effect over background development, recovered some of its cost and charged a higher tariff than the national rate. View Full-Text
Keywords: energy access; rural electrification; electrical mini-grids; solar PV; Kenya energy access; rural electrification; electrical mini-grids; solar PV; Kenya

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Bahaj, A.; Blunden, L.; Kanani, C.; James, P.; Kiva, I.; Matthews, Z.; Price, H.; Essendi, H.; Falkingham, J.; George, G. The Impact of an Electrical Mini-grid on the Development of a Rural Community in Kenya. Energies 2019, 12, 778.

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