© 2008 – RFF Press
Douglas Barnes and his team of development experts provide an essential guide that can help improve the quality of life to the estimated 1.6 billion rural people in the world who are without electricity. The difficulties in bringing electricity to rural areas are formidable: Low population densities result in high capital and operating costs. Consumers are often poor, and their electricity consumption is low. Politicians interfere with the planning and operations of programs, insisting on favored constituents. Yet, as Barnes and his contributors demonstrate, many countries have overcome these obstacles. The Challenge of Rural Electrification provides lessons from successful programs in Bangladesh, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Mexico, the Philippines, Thailand, and Tunisia, as well as Ireland and the United States. These insights are presented in a format that should be accessible to a broad range of policymakers, development professionals, and community advocates. Barnes and his contributors do not provide a single formula for bringing electricity to rural areas. They do not recommend a specific set of institutional arrangements for the participation of public sector companies, cooperatives, and private firms. They argue instead that successful programs follow a flexible, but still well-defined set of principles: a financially viable plan that clearly accounts for any subsidies; a cooperative relationship between electricity providers and local communities; and an operational separation from day-to-day government and politics.
'A timely, well-written, and exhaustive account of successful programs. The electrification of rural areas in the developing world attracts much attention from governments, the development community, electricity companies, and other organizations. A must read for all who are involved.' Adriaan N. Zomers, Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs/Development Cooperation 'A magisterial appraisal of what works in rural electrification. Barnes and his colleagues have assembled a definitive volume of studies on the most successful cases, including widely admired experiences such as China and Costa Rica in recent decades and the United States in an earlier time, as well as lesser-known yet equally informative cases such as Tunisia, the Philippines, and Ireland.' David Victor, Stanford Law School
1. The Challenge of Rural Electrification 2. The Cooperative Experience in Costa Rica 3. Power and Politics in the Philippines 4. Rural Poverty and Electricity Challenges in Bangladesh 5. Public Distribution and Electricity Problem Solving in Rural Thailand 6. From Central Planning to Decentralized Electricity Distribution in Mexico 7. Electricity and Multisector Development in Rural Tunisia 8. Rural Electricity Subsidies and the Private Sector in Chile 9. National Support for Decentralized Electricity Growth in Rural China 10. The New Deal for Electricity in the United States: 1930-1950 11. Electricity For Social Development in Ireland 12. Meeting the Challenge of Rural Electrification