- Access to sustainable energy in emerging and developing countries: exploring multi-stakeholder partnerships and emerging business models on an international-to-local scale
- Number of pages
- Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam Business School
- Document type
- Faculty of Economics and Business (FEB)
- Amsterdam Business School Research Institute (ABS-RI)
The critical role of access to energy in developing countries is widely recognized as a condition for
sustainable development, given that at present an estimated 1.4 billion people in developing
countries still lack access to electricity, while the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) stipulate
that the number of people without access to electricity should be less than one billion by 2015.
Access to energy can act as an incubator of economic activity and have an important impact on
long-term poverty reduction, as it can increase livelihood options by allowing households to engage
in a more diverse range of income-generating activities as well as make pre-existing activities more
efficient. Given the complex and multi-faced economic, technological and regulatory challenges
involved in establishing access to energy in developing countries, and the involvement of a wide
spectrum of stakeholders from public, private, and civil societal spheres from international to local
levels, establishing access to energy in developing countries goes beyond the scope of individual
governments and organizations. In exploring collaborative approaches to this issue, this research
project analysed multi-stakeholder partnerships that focus on sustainable energy in developing
countries on an international and regional level. Given the importance of involvement of market
mechanisms and local-level enterprises for sustainable development for renewable energy
technologies (RETs) in developing countries, it also explored how innovative enterprise-based
business models help develop this market in a bottom-up fashion.
In this report, a theoretical foundation is established through a discussion of academic and
professional literature focused on access to sustainable energy in developing and emerging
countries, whereby specific attention is given to the body of literature on documented case studies
on access to energy initiatives in multiple geographical regions, as well as on the identification of
existing business and delivery models developed to establish access to energy in developing
countries. This is followed by an exploration of illustrative international-to-regional level
partnerships aimed at access to energy in developing countries. In view of the importance of
private sector involvement in establishing sustainable solutions to access to energy in developing
countries, the report also analyses a few private sector-based business models that have emerged.
For the regional and local initiatives, the study concentrated on South-East Asia. The report pays
attention to the following initiatives: five international partnerships (Renewable Energy and Energy
Efficiency Partnership; Energy Access Partnership; Global Sustainable Energy Partnership; Global
Village Energy Partnership; Global Alliance for Clean Cook Stoves); three regional partnerships
(Energy for All Partnership; Energy and Environmental Partnership - Mekong; Rural Income
through Sustainable Energy) and four private-sector initiatives (Sunlabob in Laos; Husk Power
Systems in India; Kamworks in Cambodia; Grameen Shakti in Bangladesh).
The selected cases provide insight in the nature of the actors involved, issue identification,
and relation to the delivery and financing models as extracted from recent academic and
professional publications. While theoretically a clear-cut distinction between donation-based and
market-based models can be made, the analysis shows that multi-stakeholder partnerships (both
internationally-focused and regionally-focused) have moved towards increased recognition of
involving private sector actors on a local level to further longer-term sustainable development in
this market. At the same time, private enterprises do not exclusively build their business model on
market mechanisms, but rather have a combination of commercial sales and donor financing, which
enhances the importance of collaborative approaches to the issue including public and private
actors. That seems to be a gap between high-profile international partnerships on the one hand,
and local-level enterprises developing the market in a bottom-up fashion on the other hand.
Conclusions are drawn as to the main challenges to sustainable development when it comes to
access to energy in developing countries, as well as the extent to which public and private sector
actors are involved and collaborate to target the issue, and the importance of stimulating private
sector development on this market.
- Report for the Partnerships Resource Centre - 16 January 2012
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