The value of cooperatives in rural electrification
The electricity sectors of many developing countries underwent substantial reforms during the 1980s and 1990s, driven by global agendas of privatization and liberalization. However, rural electrification offered little by way of market incentives for profit-seeking private companies and was often neglected. As a consequence, delivery models for rural electrification need to change. This paper will review the experiences of various rural electrification delivery models that have been established in developing countries, including concessionary models, dealership approaches and the strengthening of small and medium-sized energy businesses. It will use examples from the USA, Bangladesh and Nepal, together with a detailed case study of a Nepali rural electric cooperative, to explore the role that local cooperatives can play in extending electricity access. It is shown that although there is no magic bullet solution to deliver rural electrification, if offered appropriate financial and institutional support, socially orientated cooperative businesses can be a willing, efficient and effective means of extending and managing rural electricity services. It is expected that this paper will be of particular value to policy-makers, donors, project planners and implementers currently working in the field of rural electrification.
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