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Estimating rural populations without access to electricity in developing countries through night-time light satellite imagery


  • Doll, Christopher N.H.
  • Pachauri, Shonali


A lack of access to energy and, in particular, electricity is a less obvious manifestation of poverty but arguably one of the most important. This paper investigates the extent to which electricity access can be investigated using night-time light satellite data and spatially explicit population datasets to compare electricity access between 1990 and 2000. We present here the first satellite derived estimates of rural population without access to electricity in developing countries to draw insights on issues surrounding the delivery of electricity to populations in rural areas. The paper provides additional evidence of the slow progress in expansion of energy access to households in Sub-Saharan Africa and shows how this might be ascribed in part due to the low population densities in rural areas. The fact that this is a continent with some of the lowest per-capita income levels aggravates the intrinsic difficulties associated with making the investments needed to supply electricity in areas with low population density and high dispersion. Clearly, these spatial dimensions of the distributions of the remaining unelectrified populations in the world have an impact on what options are considered the most appropriate in expanding access to these households and the relative attractiveness of decentralized options.

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  • Doll, Christopher N.H. & Pachauri, Shonali, 2010. "Estimating rural populations without access to electricity in developing countries through night-time light satellite imagery," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(10), pages 5661-5670, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:38:y:2010:i:10:p:5661-5670

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Nouni, M.R. & Mullick, S.C. & Kandpal, T.C., 2008. "Providing electricity access to remote areas in India: An approach towards identifying potential areas for decentralized electricity supply," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 12(5), pages 1187-1220, June.
    2. Pachauri, Shonali & Jiang, Leiwen, 2008. "The household energy transition in India and China," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(11), pages 4022-4035, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ahlborg, Helene & Boräng, Frida & Jagers, Sverker C. & Söderholm, Patrik, 2015. "Provision of electricity to African households: The importance of democracy and institutional quality," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 125-135.
    2. Lu, Heli & Liu, Guifang, 2014. "Spatial effects of carbon dioxide emissions from residential energy consumption: A county-level study using enhanced nocturnal lighting," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 131(C), pages 297-306.
    3. World Bank, "undated". "South Asia Economic Focus, Fall 2017," World Bank Other Operational Studies 28397, The World Bank.
    4. Imam, M. & Jamasb, T. & Llorca, M. & Llorca, M., 2018. "Power Sector Reform and Corruption: Evidence from Electricity Industry in Sub-Saharan Africa," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1801, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    5. repec:gam:jsusta:v:9:y:2017:i:8:p:1383-:d:107329 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Xie, Yanhua & Weng, Qihao, 2016. "Detecting urban-scale dynamics of electricity consumption at Chinese cities using time-series DMSP-OLS (Defense Meteorological Satellite Program-Operational Linescan System) nighttime light imageries," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 100(C), pages 177-189.
    7. Johanna CHOUMERT & Pascale COMBES MOTEL & Pierre Leonard LE ROUX, 2017. "Stacking up the ladder: A panel data analysis of Tanzanian household energy choices," Working Papers 201724, CERDI.
    8. Meng, Lina & Graus, Wina & Worrell, Ernst & Huang, Bo, 2014. "Estimating CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions at urban scales by DMSP/OLS (Defense Meteorological Satellite Program's Operational Linescan System) nighttime light imagery: Methodological challenges and a ," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 71(C), pages 468-478.
    9. Bhanot, Jaya & Jha, Vivek, 2012. "Moving towards tangible decision-making tools for policy makers: Measuring and monitoring energy access provision," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 47(S1), pages 64-70.
    10. Shyu, Chian-Woei, 2012. "Rural electrification program with renewable energy sources: An analysis of China’s Township Electrification Program," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 842-853.
    11. Javadi, F.S. & Rismanchi, B. & Sarraf, M. & Afshar, O. & Saidur, R. & Ping, H.W. & Rahim, N.A., 2013. "Global policy of rural electrification," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 19(C), pages 402-416.


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