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Instruments and structures of development cooperationAfricaongoing

Access to (Green) Energy in Rural Africa

Economic development through access to modern, low-carbon energy for all: How can this succeed in rural Africa? The DEval evaluation “Access to (green) energy in rural Africa” analyzes the contribution by German development cooperation to answer this and further questions.

In rural Sub-Saharan Africa, 72% of the population lack access to modern energy (as estimated by the IEA for 2022). Paraffin lamps are used for lighting open fires for cooking. Without access to modern energy, children are unable to do their homework at night, entrepreneurs are limited in their production and, without street lighting, public spaces are unsafe at night. Moreover, open fires for cooking are harmful to health.

The evaluation examines the relevance, effectiveness, sustainability and coherence of German development cooperation's contribution towards improved access to (green) energy in rural Africa. One focus of the evaluation is on the instruments and approaches for promoting energy access. These include off-grid solutions such as mini-grids, as well as stand-alone systems such as home solar power systems, autonomous solar-powered water pumps, refrigerators and mills. One aim is to find out how suitable these approaches are for scaling up access to modern energy for all. Further questions are to what extent these off-grid solutions can enable income-generating energy use and improve the lives of women in rural areas.


With the United Nations Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, the international community set itself the goal of ensuring universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy  (SDG 7)(UN, 2015). The goal includes a significant increase in the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix. This supports a transformation to low-carbon development in accordance with the Paris Climate Agreement. Germany's Federal Ministry for Economic Development and Cooperation (BMZ) has set out to "reduce energy poverty in partner countries and provide affordable, reliable and sustainable energy to households, social institutions and businesses, among others" (BMZ, 2021).

To achieve rapid results in the area of intervention "’Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency", alongside the initiative area "Green Hydrogen and Power-to-X Products", the BMZ is also relying above all on the "Green People's Energy for Africa” initiative and the global multi-donor partnership “Energising Development” (EnDev). ”The Green People´s Energy for Africa” supports partner countries  in "developing and expanding renewables and their productive [...] use by actively involving citizens, municipalities, cooperatives and private investors" (BMZ, 2021).


The overall goal of the evaluation is to assess the contribution by German development cooperation to (green) energy access in rural Africa. The OECD DAC evaluation criteria are applied. The findings will generate conclusions and recommendations for German development cooperation. The purpose is learning and accountability.  Specifically, the evaluation will generate helpful insights for the review of the core area strategy "Responsibility for our planet – climate and energy". It will also recommend pilot approaches from the "Green People's Energy for Africa" initiative to improve future portfolio design and programming. As the initiative will end in September 2023, the evaluation will draw timely conclusions to support learning and accountability.


The evaluation is case-study based. Primary data are collected in Benin, Uganda and Senegal. The focus is on target groups of productive energy use. These are primarily small rural enterprises engaged in agriculture, animal husbandry and the processing of agricultural produce, as well as owners of restaurants and small shops. Focus group discussions are conducted with such small rural enterprises in all three countries. These are supplemented with quantitative surveys in Benin and Senegal. A control group that did not benefit from the German development cooperation is also surveyed. In Senegal specifically,  village leaders and operators of mini-grids are surveyed on the functioning and use of these mini-grids for income-generating activities.

The case studies are incorporated into cross-case analyses of relevant approaches to energy access that have been implemented in Africa in recent years by the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW) and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. For this purpose, qualitative content analyses of project documents are conducted. Furthermore, data on the allocation of development cooperation funds in the energy sector (disaggregated by approach, country and theme) are subjected to a quantitative portfolio analysis. All data collection and analyses are triangulated by interviews with stakeholders in German development cooperation, partners in the partner countries and further experts.



Portrait von Dr. Mascha Rauschenbach
© DEval

Dr Mascha Rauschenbach

Evaluator - Team Leader

Phone: +49 (0)228 336907-942


Portrait von Dr. Sven Harten
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Dr Sven Harten

Head of Competence Centre for Evaluation Methodology / Deputy Director

Phone: +49 (0)228 336907-950


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