The concept of the multifunctional platform for rural energy access has increasingly been supported by donors in five West African countries since 1994. While it is often referred to as a highly successful concept, recent reviews and interviews with local stakeholders in Mali and Burkina Faso indicate that the high aspirations to be found in project descriptions and early evaluations are only partly reflected in activities on the ground. This paper illustrates how the multipurpose aspects of the platform have made the concept a nexus of potential achievements that are highly valued in the dominant discourse of development, and how including concerns, such as poverty alleviation, gender equity, local democracy, decentralisation and the environment, have attracted donors outside the energy sector. The paper thus argues that, while the integration of multiple technical functions, preconceived organisational set-ups and local fuel production have in fact had limited or even adverse effects on the outcome of the multifunctional platform programme, these virtues have proved essential in presenting the concept at the policy level. This analysis of the dilemma between mobilizing funding and implementing practical programmes provides an argument for building development aid on existing structures instead of inventing new complicated concepts and approaches.
- Cleaner energy and sustainable development
- Systems analysis