Electricity (in)accessibility to the urban poor in developing countries

Rozita Singh, Xiao Wang, Juan Carlos Mendoza, Emmanuel Ackom

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    More than half of the world’s population now lives in urban areas. The difficulties involved in providing new urban residents with a wide variety of services reveals a new face of poverty, one in which urban communities cannot access or afford basic modern energy services for their development and empowerment. As an enabler of development processes, access to electricity in urban and peri-urban contexts plays a key role in providing possibilities and solutions to the urban poor. Energy poverty is no longer a rural-only phenomenon, and a concerted effort is needed to find solutions. Taking this into account, the Global Network on Energy for Sustainable Development (GNESD) initiated the Urban Peri-Urban Energy Access (UPEA) project in 2006. The objective was to understand the barriers to energy access in the context of the urban poor in seven countries. Barriers from both the supply and demand sides for energy were investigated. Factors such as a lack of institutional coordination, weak alignment between energy policies and urban planning, and insufficient financial and social incentives seem to play key roles in constraining access to electricity for the urban poor. Overcoming these barriers will require innovative solutions in policies, decision-making, financing, multi-stakeholder dialogues, social inclusion, international cooperation and knowledge sharing regarding good practices.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalWiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Energy and Environment
    Issue number4
    Pages (from-to)339–353
    Number of pages24
    Publication statusPublished - 2015


    • Energy access
    • Urban peri urban
    • Electrification
    • Development
    • Poverty alleviation
    • Social inclusion


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