The project is organised in seven work packages as explained below and set out in the timeline.
1) WP1: In-depth literature review and development of analytical frameworks on the politicaleconomy of decentralised electricity and sustainability framework for mini-grids. We will undertake an in-depth literature review and textual analysis of peer reviewed and grey literature, including national legislation and policy documents, to understand the background context, business environment, nature of tariff setting, business performance and governance. University of Sussex (including IDS) leads this task and involves DMU and the country teams. The main outputs will be a) a critical evaluation of available literature (D1, 9th month); b) DEA framework for sustainability analysis of mini-grids (D2, 12th month); c) Political economy framework (D3, 15th month).
2) WP2: Mini-grid database and mini-grid status in case study countries: Drawing from the previous work of the partners (particularly ECREEE and TaTEDO), and other organisations, in mapping mini-grids in our 4 target countries, we intend to build a mini-grids database to record technical, financial, socio-economic, governance, and environmental information for further analysis. From this database, we will identify and select a sample of mini-grids, considering among others their technology use, location, ownership, organisation set up, for a detailed study. Relevant information on the status of these mini-grids, their performance and impact on the society will be collected through an extensive fieldwork. The country teams will undertake visits to selected mini-grid sites and carry out semi-structured qualitative interviews of the operators, user groups, local government departments, and other relevant stakeholders. In addition, to understand the national policies, business environment, risks and potentials for mini-grids, stakeholders at the national level (government departments, utilities, distribution companies, electricity regulator, development finance institutions, industry, investors, civil society, academic experts, etc.) will be interviewed. The data collection will be designed to collect information for WP3, WP4 and WP5 but options will be retained for additional inputs as part of those work packages as well. Ethical approval procedure for research projects as used in DMU will be followed. The outputs from this work activity will include: a) Mini-grids database structure (D4, 9th Month); b) Mini-grid status report (D5, 18 month); c) Open access Mini-grid database for our 4 target countries (D6, 30th month). ECREEE leads on this.
3) WP3: Sustainability analysis of mini-grids in SSA- This focuses on research question 1.
Initial quantitative analysis of the database created in WP2 using the DEA framework will identify trends in the 4 case study countries. This will allow us to identify the best performing, worst performing projects, and the factors affecting their performance. The cross-country comparison will facilitate cross-learning potentials for performance improvements. The quantitative analysis will be complemented with interviews to key stakeholders to identify the key challenges. Our analysis will also consider the potential for alternative productive uses of energy to improve the performance and sustainability. Outputs will include: a) Country case studies on mini-grid sustainability (D7, 30th month), b) Cross country comparison of mini-grid sustainability (D8, 33 month). DMU leads this task.
4) WP4: Inclusivity analysis: This addresses our research question 2. Based on the data from the database and the field study, this package will analyse three sub-questions: Who are the beneficiaries? How inclusive is the service in terms of gender, economic condition, spatial distribution, and such factors? Who controls the value chain of mini-grids and who reaps the higher benefit? Additional data if required will be collected through focus groups and stakeholder inputs. Effects and impacts will be assessed on poverty and welfare metrics (income, health, etc.) as well as on development and environmental metrics. In addition, small comparative case studies will be used to highlight the main differences and similarities in four countries. Outputs will include: a) Country level inclusivity analysis report (D9, 30th month) and b) a comparative analysis report (D10, 33 month). The African Centre for Technology Studies leads this task.
5) WP5: Governance of mini-grids: This focuses on our questions 3 and 4. The analysis of the database as well as field data from WP2 will provide insights into issues like who uses minigrids, how tariffs are set, how the service provision is organised, and what is the speed of adoption in different case study countries. The ownership/management models, the interplay between different types of finance and ownership models, regulatory readiness of countries, and inclusiveness of governance arrangements are some issues to be investigated here. If any additional stakeholder input is required, semi-structured qualitative interviews will be carried out with government departments, sub-national authorities, utilities, distribution companies, electricity regulator, development finance institutions, industry, investors, and civil society as appropriate. The outputs of this task will include: a) a report on the political economy of minigrids in case study countries (D11, 24th Month); b) a report on the financing of mini-grids (D12, 27th month); 3) report on the regulatory and governance arrangements for successful mini-grids (D13, 30th month); and d) a comparative analysis of mini-grid governance (D14, 33rd month). University of Sussex leads this task.
6) WP6: Impact, dissemination and outputs: Dissemination of research outcomes for impact generation is the primary objective of WP6. The main tasks will include 1) development of a dedicated project website, other social media channels (such as Academia.edu, LinkedIn, Twitter, Research Gate); 2) Posting updates on a regular basis; 3) Distribute leaflets, project briefs, working papers, brief notes, etc.; 4) Participate in scientific publication and dissemination of project research outputs; and 5) organise dissemination events. The deliverables will include: 1) Launch of project website and other social media channels (D15 – 6th month); 2) Dissemination packs for social media distribution (D16 – 12th, 18th, 24th and 30th months); 3) Project conferences (D17, 3 events – one in UK, one in Nigeria and one in Kenya/ Tanzania as part of annual the dissemination event). PI leads on this but the country teams play a major role.
7) WP7: Project management: An international team of collaborators involving De Montfort University, University of Sussex, Institute of Development Studies (IDS), Ecowas Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE), International Centre for Energy, Environment and Development (ICEED, Nigeria), African Centre for Technology Studies (Kenya) and TaTEDO (Tanzania) will deliver this project. DMU leads the project and interacts with the funding agency for reporting and monitoring purposes, and so DMU leads this work package. A leadership team consisting of the team leaders (or their representatives) of each team will oversee the project delivery and will meet physically or virtually every month. The team leaders (if different from the Work Package leaders) will consult with the relevant WP leader and report the progress. The team will consider progress of the overall project against the work plan and make adjustments as appropriate. This will be the main decision-making body of the project. The work package leaders will interact with relevant team members to monitor progress and ensure delivery of quality research outputs.