Enhancing equality in energy access through mobilising women in low income areas


October 22nd, 2014

How can electrical connections and electricity consumption be increased among poor people, particularly women who cannot afford the cost of getting connected?

This has been a major question for government departments or parastatals or independent power producers who want to expand grid connections to poor people with very little disposable incomes. The concern about support for rural electrical line extensions in low-income areas with low population density is the lack of sufficient customer load to pay even for operational costs, let alone capital costs. On the other hand low consumption of electricity undermines the profitability of these institutions and sustainability of the utility.

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Though electricity can have benefits such as lighting, charging, television, refrigeration, agro-processing etc., the reality is that these rural communities are left with no dreams of ever getting connected in their lives. This however can be a cause for inequality in enhancing energy access denying communities their right to energy. I will leave this as an open question subject and as an issue for discussion.

Some projects have tried to address this inequality in Macomia District (Cabo Delgado Province of Mozambique) by increasing rural households’ connections and consumption of electricity from the national grid for productive use. The focus has been to increase awareness of electricity benefits for rural communities, particularly women, by demonstrating various energy equipment, gadgets and household appliances to women and showing their time and labor-saving benefits.

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The women community workers undergo capacity building sessions and motivational lessons (in the form of videos or exchange visits) to give them the skills and knowledge they need to set up and run viable businesses using electricity. Once communities had graduated from the training and mentoring sessions they will linked to financial institutions or institutions that had the ability to give them capital to get connected and start businesses in the form of loans or grants.

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