Research on rural electrification
A ‘Socio-economic Impact Assessment of Rural Electrification’ study was commissioned by the Foundation Rural Energy Services (FRES) and carried out by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in collaboration with the Erasmus University in Rotterdam.
It concerns a socio-economic impact assessment of rural electrification activities by FRES companies in communities in Mali, South Africa and Uganda – a baseline study for the latter. The research identifies a number of benefits of FRES’ activities in the three countries. As stated in the report:
“The activities of FRES have significant positive effects on the areas where it operates. 120 FRES clients (with access to rural electrification), 120 non-clients (without access to rural electrification), 10 health centres, 10 village heads, 20 schools and 10 businesses were interviewed per country. Increased access to light has been shown to enable studying at night, contributing to an observed increase in the amount of time children spend on their education. The quality of life is also improved; for example, because people have more optional activities in the evenings, are able to charge their cell phones at home, and have more access to information and communication devices.
At the community level the impact is strongly positive with a large number of public buildings being electrified, as well as schools and health centres, municipal buildings, churches and mosques. Healthcare services benefit from increased light and increased power to refrigerate vaccines. The impact on household income is strongly dependent on the regional (or national) context, and is strongest in Mali where small businesses are fairly common. The working climate in the region benefits significantly. Electricity enables entrepreneurs to expand their business, work longer hours or develop other small businesses.
FRES also contributes to regional (economic) developments. In all countries where FRES is active it has become one of the largest employers in the local rural areas, thereby creating stable, well-paid, high-value jobs. Consequently, FRES is able to bind highly qualified personnel to the region. In Mali, South Africa and Uganda alone, FRES provides direct employment toapproximately 185 locals and indirect employment to approximately 172 people.
Moreover, the solar home systems are assembled, installed and maintained locally. Auxiliary parts like frames, wooden boxes etc. are manufactured locally as well. As a result, FRES creates steady (indirect) employment for several suppliers. Also, the metal frames require painting and protection from corrosion, while the maintenance of the cars is performed by local garages.”