Muhoza Cassilde and Johnson Oliver W.

Titre Ouvrage:
Exploring household energy transitions in rural Zambia from the user perspective
Energy Policy, vol. 121
pp. 25-34

Renewable energy mini-grids are expected to play a major role in pursuit of universal access to modern energy services, particularly in rural Africa where grid extension is technically or financially unviable. In doing so, they will contribute greatly to a shift in household and community energy use from reliance on traditional fuels to more modern energy services. However, such a shift is a complex and uncertain process, with mini-grids often struggling to achieve sustainability after initial project funding ends. This paper draws on service design approaches to understand challenges associated with adoption of electricity services from the user perspective. By developing a user journey map, our study explores users’ experience associated with connecting to and using electricity services from a 60 kW solar mini-grid in Mpanta, a small rural fishing community in northern Zambia. Our study finds that poor expectation management and limited integration of local socioeconomic dynamics in mini-grid service design, including their impact on affordability, has led to a slow and partial shift in household energy use. Better incorporation of the user perspective in the design, implementation and evaluation of mini-grids can help to identify potential barriers to adoption of electricity services and adapt it to the local context.