Although off-grid and decentralised solutions are expected to play a significant role and mini-grids are assumed to be a game changer for a rapid, cost-effective, pro-poor, universal electrification globally, the green mini-grid sector has not grown rapidly. Progress has been patchy between and within countries, across rural areas and informal urban settlements and between high and low-income communities. Among the barriers to scaling up mini-grids in Africa are lack of mini-grid specific regulatory framework, unproven business models, demand uncertainty, limited access to finance and lack of capacity.


The main aim of this project is to improve our understanding of sustainability, inclusiveness and governance of mini-grids in general and those in sub-Saharan Africa in particular, by developing an improved evidence base and a multi-dimensional appreciation of issues and challenges that can support better decision-making for universal electrification globally.

The project has been conceptualised through a collaborative process involving a team of UK-based researchers and research teams from four sub-Saharan Africa countries (namely Nigeria, Senegal, Kenya and Tanzania).

Objectives of the project

  • To develop an evidence base on mini-grid performance in sub-Saharan Africa through an extensive review of local literature, available data with project partners and by undertaking primary data collection from existing mini-grid projects and related stakeholders in Nigeria, Senegal, Kenya and Tanzania, and develop a database of mini-grid projects;
  • To undertake in-depth case studies of mini-grid sustainability, inclusiveness and governance in the four countries of sub- Saharan Africa considering technical design, ownership, financial condition, regulatory environment, social embeddedness and environmental impacts. The project would then draw comparisons across countries and across different dimensions to analyse the main issues for mini grids in SSA.
  • To organise dissemination and communication activities for impact.
  • To develop research collaboration and build research capacity through on the job training of research assistants and research fellows, participation in exchange programmes and research uptake events and networking


The work is organised in seven work packages. Apart from its contribution in the other 6 work packages, NCIR-ICFI Kenya Hub is leading a work package focused on inclusivity analysis. Based on the data from the database and the field study, this package will analyse inclusivity questions around community participation and empowerment in access, ownership, deployment and governance of minigrids, gender issues, impact on vulnerable households and enterprises, structural effects, among other related themes. Comparative case studies will be used to highlight the main differences and similarities in four countries.


Our analytical approach sits at the intersection of human geography, development studies, engineering and sustainability transitions. The research is necessarily inter-disciplinary in order to understand complex interactions between financial, technological, political, socio-economic and cultural factors. We are developing a political economy framework and a sustainability framework to analyse electricity access in developing countries, with a particular focus on mini-grids.

Olkiramatian Minigrid, Kajiado-Kenya


Our case studies (two from West Africa, Nigeria and Senegal and two from East Africa, Kenya and Tanzania) present fascinating grounds for comparison and have been selected on the basis of their diversity of governance models and differing levels of decentralised electricity provisions within their specific national and sub-national contexts. The work is organised in seven work packages and will be delivered over a period of 36 months.


  • University of Sussex, De Montfort University, University of Surrey in the United Kingdom,
  • TaTEDO in Tanzania,
  • The International Centre for Energy, Environment & Development (ICEED) in Nigeria,
  • ECOWAS Regional Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE).



  • SIGMA Webinar: Social sustainability of Mini-grids in the Global South.