This paper leverages the proliferation of mobile phones in Sub-Saharan Africa to conduct phone-based surveys on energy access and demand. The survey uses interactive voice recognition (IVR) surveys to ask questions on energy service provision, service quality, and demand in twelve African countries: Benin, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia. From these surveys, this we identify nine key findings:
- Daily outages are a norm almost everywhere.
- Satisfaction with service from the grid varies widely.
- The grid is viewed as reliable for powering some household appliances.
- In all countries, the majority desire a grid connection.
- Connection costs and distance from the grid are the most common obstacles to grid electricity.
- Demand is high for energy-intensive appliances, especially TVs.
- On-grid customers still rely heavily on generators, especially in Nigeria.
- Off-grid, non-generator electricity is inadequate for most respondents’ energy needs.
- Off-grid customers still desire grid electricity.
From these findings, we draw several potential policy implications. First, both grid electricity and off-grid solutions currently are inadequate to meet many African consumers’ modern energy demands. Second, grid and off-grid electricity are viewed by consumers as complementary, rather than competing, solutions to meet energy demand. Third, a market exists for off-grid solutions even among connected, urban Africans.
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