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Scale Up and Replication of Off-grid Projects

Scaling up of off-grid electrification is one of the key priorities of developing countries across the world trying to meet SE4ALL objective of universal energy access by 2030. However, scaling up off-grid electrification projects is beset with many challenges as most such projects end up becoming islands of excellence without being able to expand and deliver impacts at a larger scale. 

There are several reasons for this inability to scale up including lack of resources, lack of finance, policy and regulatory barriers, and lack of champions to steer the project. However, despite some evidence on the reasons for the success and failure of energy access projects and the abundance of literature on the subject of scaling up (as applied in other sectors), the concept of scaling up off-grid electrification is still nebulous. Through an intensive study of scaling up literature and selected case studies on off-grid electrification, this paper provided a systematic understanding of the concepts of scaling up and replication in the context of electricity access. 

The paper finds that financial assistance or support for an energy enterprises and or project implementation agencies is one of the critical factors for scaling up. The type of financial assistance is also depended on the stage where the entity is on its scaling up trajectory. Another key learning on the financing aspect is the need for ‘flexibility’ both in terms of debt repayment terms as well as conditions that are tied it. The study also observes that performance milestones should incentivize the project developer to sustain a project and scale it up. 

Further, given all the elements of potentially scalable projects, a project or a programme can also end up having different scaling up trajectories depending on the entity or actor which is scaling it up. Finally, the question of when to scale up energy access project or programme remains debatable due to lack of sufficient evidence and may need further research.

 

Download the full paper here.