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Off-grid rural electrification experiences from South Asia: Status and best practice

South Asia accounts for 42% of the global population without access to electricity. Such a situation continues to exist despite several initiatives and policies to support electrification efforts by the respective country governments.

Based on an extensive literature review, this paper highlights the rural electrification situation at the regional and country level in South Asia. It details the role of governments in providing energy access with different public finance mechanisms, including subsidies. Importantly, the authors outline the role of technologies, particularly off-grid technologies. The paper points out that the off-grid technologies prioritised in institutional frameworks seem to fit to a large extent with the geographical characteristics of the demand, resource potential, and delivery model in which the technology dissemination is taking place.

The authors recommend developing a regulatory mechanism to extend the tariff fixation for mini-grid projects and providing cross-subsidies to ensure long term sustainability of such projects. In addition, the paper points out that economic linkages, access to credit and institutional arrangements also need to be organised appropriately, especially for off-grid renewable energy, to facilitate successful outcomes.