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WIREs Energy Environ.
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Electricity (in)accessibility to the urban poor in developing countries

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More than half of the world's population now lives in urban areas. The difficulties involved in providing new urban residents with a wide variety of services reveal a new face of poverty, one in which urban communities cannot access or afford basic modern energy services for their development and empowerment. As an enabler of development processes, access to electricity in urban and peri‐urban contexts plays a key role in providing possibilities and solutions to the urban poor. Energy poverty is no longer a rural‐only phenomenon, and a concerted effort is needed to find solutions. Taking this into account, the Global Network on Energy for Sustainable Development (GNESD) initiated the Urban Peri‐Urban Energy Access (UPEA) project in 2006. The objective of this study was to understand the barriers to energy access in the context of the urban poor in seven countries. Barriers from both the supply and demand sides for energy were investigated. Factors such as a lack of institutional coordination, weak alignment between energy policies and urban planning, and insufficient financial and social incentives appear to play key roles in constraining access to electricity for the urban poor. Overcoming these barriers will require innovative solutions in policies, decision‐making, financing, multi‐stakeholder dialogs, social inclusion, international cooperation, and knowledge sharing regarding good practices. WIREs Energy Environ 2015, 4:339–353. doi: 10.1002/wene.148 This article is categorized under: Energy Policy and Planning > Economics and Policy Energy Policy and Planning > Systems and Infrastructure Energy Policy and Planning > Climate and Environment Energy and Development > Systems and Infrastructure
Distribution of the world's urban population by major area. Source: United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2012): World Urbanization Prospects, the 2011 Revision. New York.
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